I am pretty well known among people for my laugh. I suppose the best way to describe it is loud, boisterous, or hearty. People have told me that they know I am in a room or can find me in the room simply based on my laugh. I have often found that somehow my laugh makes others laugh or smile, even if they are not sure why I am laughing. I have also found people totally immersed in a neighboring conversation stop altogether just to see what is so funny. In truth, I think what makes my laugh so amusing to others is that it comes out of a relatively small-statured person; so the combination of erupting laughter from such an unlikely candidate bring an amusement of its own.
I was reminded of the phenomenon this week. It had been a long week, with late evening commitments, and a particularly full plate at work. Needless to say, I was tired and not feeling particularly in a boisterous mood. But as I worked alongside a parishioner making sandwiches for our hungry neighbors, the parishioner shared a funny story with me. Of course, my laughter, with a mind of its own, erupted in the room. I noticed out of the corner of my eye that the volunteers near us were a bit startled, and then amused by my laughter. I could see the predictable smiles spreading across their faces, as they too became a part of the joy of my laughter.
The reminder about the phenomenon of my laugh was especially helpful during this somewhat stressful week. Because my laughter is so boisterous and so uninhibited, it often escapes without me controlling it. Had I thought whether or not I was in the mood for laughing or focusing on something other than my stress, I probably would have shut down the laugh altogether. But that is the gift of my laugh. Sometimes, even when I do not feel like laughing, the laugh emerges anyway. And when I pay attention to the amusement of others, I can choose to be amused too – amused at taking myself too seriously, amused at my own self-absorption, amused at how much I have forgotten the bigger picture.
In that way, I have begun to wonder this week if my laughter is one of those gifts from God. When I listen to my laugh, or pay attention to the effect of my laugh on others, I can see that my laugh is this little gift from God that seems to say, “Lighten up! Whatever is going on right now, I [God] am in the midst of it, so why not try giving it back to me.” I needed that particular reminder this week, and as always, I am grateful for the ways that God grabs my attention. So perhaps this weekend, a round of stand-up comedy or a funny movie is order, so that I can revel a lot more in God’s grace and mercy and stop taking myself so seriously.