This may not be a secret — but I love laughing.
As far as I am concerned, a sense of humor transforms life from something that has to be gotten through grudgingly, just because you happened to be born and have no other choice, into an opportunity for joy, if only for a moment here and there.
That’s gotta be good for your heart.
But so often, when I laugh a little about something serious, I get a dirty look.
Real humor (as opposed to the current insult-, obscenity-, self-obsessed variety on TV) has always seemed to me to be one of the greatest blessings a person can possess. It keeps you from taking yourself too seriously, which can be a very uncomfortable personality trait. Why,a true sense of the absurd might even lower your blood pressure.
And I have noticed that very often when women rate their men for their good points, “he makes me laugh” often comes in first or second. Having a true sense of humor (seeing the foolishness of a situation, not a person), can turn the world from gray to gold.
There are books of funny tombstones (”Hey, wait a minute!” or “I told you I was sick!”), humorous saints, and, at risk of displeasing humorless Christians, I will even dare to mention that more than one book has been written about Jesus’s sense of humor and joy. Often mentioned in this respect is his comment that the chances of rich people getting into heaven are about as easy as a camel going through the eye of a needle. What I think He meant was not wholesale condemnation of the rich but the sheer difficulty of ignoring all the distractions that being rich can create. ( I speak from observation.) Like many good public speakers (and many ministers who came after), He used an amusing idea to get the point across..
His comparison of Himself with the ultra-serious John the Baptist is interesting: “John came neither eating nor drinking ... the Son of Man came eating and drinking. and they say, ‘Look, a drunkard and a glutton.’ “ Jesus was neither, but there was as much prejudice in those days against religious people being light-hearted as there is these days. Especially, oddly enough, among other religious people.
I'm not the only one who thinks this! A famous minister of the 1900s, George Buttrick, once said that Jesus is “crowned in believers' hearts, among tears and confession and great laughter.” He meant, I think, that the promise of Christianity includes overwhelming, loving joy. Not just a sour preachy distaste for anyone who might not accept my idea of God.
I don’t mean to get too serious here, but surely the hope that accompanies faith just naturally points to a humorous outlook on daily life. (For Christians, surely, but also for true Jews and Muslims as well.) As in, “Well, things might not be working out well now, but all will be well in God’s time. Meanwhile, find the joy.” I never could understand uptight believers, at least in the United States. (First century Rome, not to mention current-day Afghanistan or Iraq, might be a different story.)
Lighthearted religious behavior is not unheard of in the church. For instance, when I was in seminary, at Gettysburg, the statue of Martin Luther underwent a serious transformation every Reformation Day. You woke up in the morning to find him dressed as the Pope, or a cardinal, or a beggar, or basketball player or any sort of character that promised a laugh, or even, just a teensy-tiny little sensation of shock. (Religious people can be human too, you know.)
Luther would have understood — he was a bit of a joker himself, when he wasn’t running around reforming things. And his wife Katherine was too. One night, the story goes, he had a lot of serious conversation with friends, not a joke in the lot, this time. The next morning Katherine came downstairs dressed in deep mourning. Luther looked at her with concern. “Who died?” he asked. “Why, according to what you all were saying last night,” she said, “I thought God had died.” (Hey, wives know how to get the point across, don’t they?)
As you know, my whole family was riddled with ministers, and I think we had more laughs than anyone else in town when we got together. And apparently some other religious people have a sense of humor too. I read recently that, at St. Catherine’s in Sinai, there is a tourist site that claims to be the original location of Moses’ burning bush. There right next to the current bush is — a fire extinguisher.
Just being human makes life amusing enough — the trick is being able to locate the humor. It’s not always laugh-out-loud, but it’s the human foible and the paradox that make it funny. In his book “Between Heaven and Mirth,” Father James Martin tells about an Ash Wednesday service in which, as he traced the cross on a woman’s forehead in ashes, saying “You are dust, and to dust you shall return,” she said, “Watch my hair.”
And here’s a child’s version of the Old Testament story of Lot’s Wife, innocently mashed up with the story of the Exodus: “Lot’s wife was a pillar of salt during the day, and a ball of fire at night.”
Come on, now, the artless combination of knowledge and innocence is surefire every time.
Laugh a little.
Maude McDaniel is a Cumberland freelance writer. Her column appears on alternate Sundays in the Times-News
This may not be a secret — but I love laughing.
- Maude McDaniel - Living
Old houses and furnaces and a different world
Nine houses and four dorms. That’s how many places I have lived in my lifetime, and I remember each of them, well, not vividly but with great fondness. Not a one of them was a bad experience, in fact, good things happened at each place. (Bad things too, but that’s life.)
Things to watch out for as you get older
Time goes so fast these days that I have been known to put a couple of years on in less than six months. And it doesn’t even make sense, because theoretically time should go more slowly the older you get. Everything else does — why not time? But it doesn’t seem to work like that. Can someone explain to me please how yesterday got finished while I was still getting up.
Maude needs a rest, no bones about it
Mom couldn’t think of anything to write this week so I tried to be helpful. I suggested a column about bones, and one about sniffing versus licking, and one about the delightful appeal of female dogs compared to that of male dogs. (Even if you’re what Mom calls fixed, whatever that is.)
Age brings wisdom ... or strong opinions
Some places, I tell you, I will never go!
Mostly, I’m not talking places on the map, but places of expression, or position, or opinion. For instance, as you already know, I will never, never, never in my life say “Oh My God.” Unless, of course, OMG stands for Oh My Goodness, which I have used for years — hey, then I’m with you!
This will really fix whatever’s ailing you
Testosterone! That’s what I’m talkin’ about right now. And, you can’t stop me. I feel as if I’ve had a shot of the stuff and I’m rarin’ to fight. Because that’s what testosterone often does — makes you want to fight.
Wear hearing aids; you won’t be sorry
For 40 or 50 years I have worn hearing aids, and all I can say is, God bless whoever invented them! According to Google, it was in the 17th century, but you’d never know it to look at them. Ear trumpets are not what I’m talkin’ about!
Little decisions can make life difficult
Life is so full of Little Ethical Decisions.
Nothing that will change the world, you understand. Nothing like whether to use the atomic bomb on our next military adventure (Dumbfoundingly, some do consider it.)
At times, you want to stay in the jungle
And while I’m drumming away in 2013, here’s a column from 2010:
Funny how the memory works. The other day I was putzing around watching a kind neighbor snowblow my driveway. (Thank you, Steve). In the very midst of the storm, while I was checking the progress of a 2-yard icicle hanging from my roof (gorgeous!), these words gradually filtered into my consciousness:
Here’s a memory nobody could forget
Here’s hoping you don’t remember that I wrote about this many years ago. But I doubt if you were one of my two readers then. So I feel safe telling you that every year about this time I think back to one of the most memorable experiences of my life — apart from personal milestones, THE most memorable experience of my life. And I have to smile.
The worse they get, the better they are
If you are like most people, you should avert your eyes and pretend you didn’t see this column. It is full of bad jokes and worse puns. (The worst part of it is that my computer is confused and may have included some jokes you have seen before. I apologize for that.)
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- Old houses and furnaces and a different world