In tough times

In tough times, the first thing to go is your sense of humor. To face evil, oppression and injustice every day tends to make one exhausted and cynical. The stories of climate crisis and disaster, financial malpractice and casual glorified violence wear the most faithful proclaimer of Jesus’ grace down. As I look around the community, folks appear worn out and definitely sans good humor. One of my friends smiled at me this week and declared, ‘Don’t let the turkeys get you down!’ She spoke it in a hush, so as not to draw attention from the committee meeting in progress. Her comment reminded me of a T-shirt my mother had when I was growing up that said the same thing. There is something heartening about remembering a Sandra Boynton cartoon of turkeys sitting on an elephant. It is enough to make me laugh, remembering my Mom wearing such a silly cartoon and cleaning the house on a Saturday morning and singing along to Linda Ronstadt. Humor is healing! The expression ‘laughter is the best medicine’ offers wisdom for the ages. No matter what age you are, laughter fights stress, anxiety, fear and pain. Norman Cousins, an author, professor, and journalist, believed that the biochemistry of emotion through laughter was the key to combating illness. He used laughter (as well as a megadose of Vitamin C) to fight his heart disease and manage his arthritic condition. Hunter Campbell, M.D., the American physician whose life inspired the 1998 movie “Patch Adams” opened a free hospital in a six-bedroom home, to pilot a health care facility through which thousands of patients received humor-infused care over twelve years. That experiment evolved into the Gesundheit Institute which currently offers volunteer programs like humanitarian clowning trips to hospitals, orphanages, refugee camps and prisons. I could talk about the biological impact of humor here, but better for you to google studies online, or better, google some jokes to make you laugh. Have you noticed humor in the scriptures? Job (a rather serious book) describes an ostrich in Job 39:13-18. Verse 17-18 say, ‘because God has made it forget wisdom, and given it no share in understanding, when it spreads its plumes aloft, it laughs…’ And then there is the prophet Jonah. Jonah runs from God, is rescued from drowning by spending three days in the belly of a fish. And then Jonah complaining about God’s rescue of Nineveh from destruction, throws a tantrum about a vine dying that was offering him shade. In Jonah 4:9 he complains about the vine saying, ‘I am angry enough to die.’ Seriously Jonah, over dramatic much? And did you ever read Proverbs 27:14? I wish I had this scripture when I was a young person with parents that took joy in waking me with a loud voice! “Whoever blesses a neighbor with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, will be counted as cursing.” If you are not a morning person…there’s a little biblical support for you! Ha! Does the Bible have humor? Sure it does. Genesis 18 tells the story of Sarah overhearing the news that she will bear a child. Verse 12-13 say, ‘So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure? The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’” Can you imagine the senior Sarah receiving word she’d bear a child? There is humor in the bible and even laughter. I believe that God has a sense of humor and planted that same joy of life and laughing into humanity. How else would we be able to laugh? ‘Don’t let the turkeys get you down!’ There are mean-spirited yellers who show up when and where you least expect them. The news is filled with sadness and despair. Even so, God offers joy and laughter as medicine for your soul. Don’t give your life away or let your sense of humor rust in the rain! Take time for laughter! Rev. Dr. Leigh Ann

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