This morning on Easter Monday, my heart is full of gratitude for the awe-filled and soul-nourishing celebrations of Holy Week and Easter Sunday. When I first started writing reflections in journals years ago, the entries were mostly gratitude lists. I would try to end the day by listing five things for which I was grateful. “Thank you, God, for my bed, my cozy bed” was a frequent entry! Gratitude lists were a good starting point to journaling for me. I return to this practice today.
Thank you, God, for
- The pastor and congregation of my church who put so much into the celebrations of Holy Week and Easter
- The privilege and grace of walking a faith journey with two adults who were received into full communion with the Church at the Easter Vigil
- My own conversion on this faith journey as a community sponsor for the two adults
- Friends from church who invited me to join in their Easter dinner celebration
- My family with whom I celebrate Easter even though we are miles apart
- The resources that allow me to stay home from work this week to rest and prepare for the next journey
- Yellow tulips and pink begonias that bring “new life” into my home
- The motivation to complete 30 days of disciplined eating
- The gift of laughter
I am especially grateful for the gift of laughter. After a long Lenten season of sober reflection and reconciliation, it is great to have a chance to lighten up. There is medical evidence that, like the proverbial apple, a good laugh every day promotes mental and physical health, and keeps the doctor away. I was reminded of this at yesterday’s dinner where the host regaled us for hours with his stories. Each one began with “This is a true story . . .” After the third one, we all smiled whenever he began a new tale! I do not enjoy comedy routines or joke-telling, but in this dinner setting among friends, the stories reminded me that I had not laughed out loud in a long time.
I am reminded of the times when I “laughed so hard that I cried.” One time in particular comes to mind. When my sister and I arrived in China after a very long flight, we were exhausted and eager to get to our hotel. There were only a few people on the bus that transported us. The bus had reclining seats, and unbeknownst to us, our two seats did not lock in one position. Every time the bus accelerated, the seats would drop back. A silly thing, really, but we took a fit of giggling. We would resume our composure until the next acceleration, then the laughter and tears would begin again. Even now, years later, we cannot recall the memory without laughing all over again.
The Gospels speak of lighthearted intervals in the lives of Jesus and the apostles, for example, weddings, meals, spending time with children, enjoying picnics on the beach. We are encouraged to celebrate while Jesus (the bridegroom) is in our midst, with song, dance, and hearty laughter. What better time than when the Risen Christ is in our midst.
I leave you with these questions for reflection and invite you to respond if you wish:
- What makes you laugh?
- How do you celebrate? Is it with feasting, song, dance, and laughter?
- Can you laugh at yourself?
(These thoughts on laughter are based on a reflection of the spotted hyena by Sr. Janice McLaughlin, MM, in Ostriches, Dung Beetles, and Other Spiritual Masters: A Book of Wisdom from the Wild (Orbis, 2009), my new favorite book of reflections.)
May you find something to make you laugh at least once a day.