“Laughter has something in it common with the ancient words of faith and inspiration; it unfreezes pride and unwinds secrecy; it makes people forget themselves in the presence of something greater than themselves.”
In a recent read of the book Reasonable Pleasures: the Strange Coherences of Catholicism by Fr. James Schall, I was intrigued by the highlighting of the presence of laughter in our lives, not only for the fact that it is a positive pleasure that we partake of, but as another sort of proof of God’s existence in our lives. While this may seem to be a stretch at the least, it, in its proper context, seems to actually lay proof to the idea that we are destined for something else, and that someone else is going to help us get there.
One of the primary reasons that we laugh, at the root of it all, is because we recognize that things are not necessarily the way that they should be: there is something incongruous within the workings of our lives. When we laugh with our friends or family, more often than not it is because we have recognized something askew or odd. It is not simply the result of a joyous occasion- it is often because we see something is out of sorts. We recognize that something is not correctly ordered or that some element is missing in whatever the situation.
However, it is not that we are just laughing that a piece of the puzzle out of place- it is that we have come to accept and work in spite of it. In fact, so many of the things we laugh about are concerning ourselves- and as the quote above from Chesterton indicates, it is a sign of a proper placement of humility within ourselves- and we recognize that we have a greater goal in mind. We recognize that we have some way out of what we find ourselves in- namely Christ.
If we were to have no goal past this life- all the minor inconveniences and foibles that we have would seem to be cause for alarm and often the end in some respect. If we only existed in this life and were merely gone in the next, we would really be a part of a tragedy rather than a journey. For example, I wouldn’t be able to laugh about the fact that chronically overthink things. The fact that I accept the fact that I do this (to some degree anyway) is because I recognize that it is all a part of who I am and how I have been designed; in cooperation with God’s grace, it all falls in to place, even in spite of me. Christ is there at the end of the day for me, if I am willing to surrender my will to His.
If I were not okay with that particular feature of my personality- especially with God in view- it would likely turn me bitter. It would be a stark contrast to the example of the saints, at least so it seems. In their lives, we aren’t presented with melancholy men and women who just happened to be just holy enough when they died. These were men and women who saw the world in it’s brokenness- themselves included; it didn’t become an obstacle them. Often they acknowledged and treasured their brokenness, because they recognized that Christ fills the void. In the second reading for this Sunday, St. Paul recognizes his own brokenness too. This was with a different view than failure- but rather opportunity. We should be willing to do the very same. Let us too look at our own shortcomings, with a spirit of laughter if it so fits, and joyfully recognize that, if we are willing to let Christ in- He is the one that can make up the difference.
“I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”
-2 Corinthians 12:9-10