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Topic: Laughter (10/18/04)
TITLE: Transforming Prunes
By Mary Elder-Criss
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“Good grief, Mom.”
“Wait!” I gasped out in between chuckles, but it was to no avail. I was already speaking to hastily retreating backs. Holding my sides, I bend over the buggy, tears running down my face, as I attempt to bring myself back under control. I find it is of little use, however. I keep thinking about the comment my oldest daughter made, and then their looks of dismay when I began snickering, and how quickly they distanced themselves from me in public. Attempting to make myself stop only made me laugh even harder.
I don’t really blame the girls for deserting me when I have one of my “laughing fits,” as they call them. I know they love me, so I don’t take it personally. Besides, in their defense, I do get some strange looks in stores when it occurs. I have always hated the sound of my laughter anyhow. It’s a deep chortle when something tickles my sense of humor, escalating to a high bray when I am really amused, with a snort or two thrown in for good measure. The worst thing about it is that it could happen at any given time with no warning whatsoever.
One day while shopping with my oldest daughter and her teenage cousin in an outlet store, we came upon a rack of clothing that amused me greatly. In amongst jeans and t-shirts on the clearance rack were long, narrow, fuzzy turtleneck dresses that were about three inches wide. They looked so comical that I simply could not help myself. Pulling one off the rack, I offered it to my niece, asking her if she’d like to go try it on. The look of astonishment on her face at the ugliness of the thing caused me to convulse in laughter. Much to their credit, they didn’t walk off and desert me as I stood bent over, sides heaving in pain, but even joined in.
Nothing feels quite so good as a belly aching laugh. Whoever penned the line about laughter being good medicine sure knew what they were talking about. It seems the Lord agrees with the sentiment, as well. One night around two years ago, before getting ready for bed, I visited each of my children’s rooms, to lay hands upon them and pray for them. As I was praying in tongues for my youngest daughter, I was suddenly baptized in the spirit of laughter. The spirit only grew stronger, as I went from child to child. By the time I left my son’s room, I was wiping tears of mirth from my eyes.
The next morning my son approached me with these words, “Mom, I don’t mind you praying for me, but the next time you do, would you mind not attempting to suffocate me?” It seems that in my laughter-filled prayer the night before, I had inadvertently pushed his head further and further into the pillow, unknowingly. When I shared this with my Sunday school class, we all got a good chuckle out of it.
In Ecclesiastes Chapter 3, we are told that there is a time for everything. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to pluck what is planted….a time to weep, and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.
Unfortunately, some Christians seem to believe that only if you walk around with a dour face and a sour expression, will you enter into Heaven’s portal. If one is not always composed, nor their step unceasingly serious, they are in danger of the very gates of Hades, itself. I think I’ll take the risk. I’d rather my face not resemble a prune.
My very favorite portrait of Jesus is one in which He has his head thrown back, enjoying a good laugh. Although I am not sure of the artist’s name, I believe they captured part of the essence of Jesus. I am sure that Jesus took joy in things around Him, and still does today, including His children’s laughter. If He weeps with us, it stands to reason; He laughs with us as well.
Although this path we walk is often fraught with trials and tribulations, and there will be periods of sadness, there will also be intervals of joy. Perhaps one can even transform the seasons of weeping by remembering to find time to laugh, and to laugh out loud.