A man sitting in a booth next to me at breakfast complained about everything on the menu. It started when the waitress announced that the restaurant was out of oatmeal.
“You are out of oatmeal?” he asked incredulously, as if she had just told him the world had run out of water.
“How can you be out of oatmeal? That’s ridiculous. There’s not one other item on this menu that I like,” he grumbled. Since the breakfast menu covered two pages, I doubted that was true.
He reluctantly ordered eggs but had them recooked three times. I watched his waitress try to slip by his table without being seen. I recommended she wear camouflage.
After he began to rant about his eggs for a third time, I said very loudly, “For God’s sake just eat!!”
The laughter rule . . .
Each morning I call my mom on the way to work. Since her stroke, we have made a commitment to tell each other upbeat, funny stories.
The other day mom remembered the time she let go of dad’s wheelchair to unlock the car, and he rolled down a small hill into a parking lot.
Don’t worry, people determined to be sad, he wasn’t hurt. And the shared laughter energized both of us.
This week, I’ve veered towards the patter of the man who didn’t get his oatmeal. I know it’s only Tuesday, but I can feel my energy going south.
Yesterday and today, our conversations sounded something like this –
Mom: “Well, how are things going?”
Me: “I just can’t get my story written the way I want it. I’m tired. I’m tired of trying.”
Mom: “Well, didn’t you say you felt led to write this book?”
Me: “Yes, but I also felt led to buy that expensive make-up that ended up making my face swell twice it’s normal size, so I’m not trusting that feeling.”
And I proceed to tell more “poor me” stories. I think mom needs to put me in a wheelchair and roll me down a hill.
God is funnier than we think . . .
My dad used to hate it when people in church would read scripture as if God only understood dirges. The reader’s face would droop, his or her eyes would stare at the pages as if looking at her shoes, and any ability to smile disappeared.
Frustrated by this, my father gave an entire sermon on Jesus’s sense of humor. As he looked at the congregation, he saw nothing but stone faces. Later he told me, “I think they are determined to be serious.”
It’s not that we should be cavalier, it’s that we need to let laughter get on stage more often so it can do its job.
I remember sitting at my grandmother’s funeral, flanked by my mom and aunt. They were both sniffling as we were given the best seats in the house – those directly in front of the casket. Being immediate family, we got the gussied up chairs that were covered in fake blue fur.
As we sat, I whispered, “I feel like I’m sitting on a muppet.” And we all laughed, as Grandmom would have. With that laughter the air lightened and the casket lost its power.
You see, I think the future is bright. . .
I believe that we are eternal, and laughter is just a glimpse into the joy from which we came.
Why so serious? Maybe because we are afraid of being responsible for the amazing possibilities within us.
Following is one of my favorite passages that is often attributed to Nelson Mandela. I found it in Marianne Williamson’s book, “A Return to Love.”
I hope this passage means as much to you as it does to me, and I hope you shine a little brighter after reading it.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
—-from A Return to Love, by Marianne Williamson.
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