IT IS EASY to laugh when we feel good, but it is precisely when life appears dim that we most need laughter in our lives.
Right now, our country is politically divided, economically unstable and full of concern about the coronavirus pandemic.
Thus, the time seems ripe to consider the benefit of belly laughs.
As children, most of us laugh with abandon many times each day. As we age, though, life’s burdens can weigh us down and suppress our inclination toward outbursts of laughter.
The nature of our laughing changes, too. We judge ourselves. Is my laughter too loud? Too squeaky? Too peppered with snorts?
Inviting more spontaneous laughter back into our lives is not always easy.
It requires a conscious decision to liberate ourselves from our worries and sorrows, to let go and laugh without concern for the particular sounds that emerge.
Belly laughs are my favorites — whether witnessing them in others or experiencing them myself.
This is when our laughter comes from the core of our being.
It begins in our bellies and then radiates outward, until our entire body is undulating with laughter.
An energetic and enthusiastic bout of whole-body laughter exercises the muscles, the lungs and the mind in equal measure, leaving us feeling relaxed and content.
When we laugh heartily at life’s ridiculousness instead of responding irritably, our focus shifts.
Anger, stress, guilt and sadness no longer wield so much influence over us and we are more apt to keep our woes in perspective.
Laughter also opens our hearts, letting love flow in and out, changing our perspectives and enabling us to set our attention on what is positive in our lives.
We regain our footing in the moment and remember that no worry or sorrow is powerful enough to rob us of our inborn joy.
When we understand that uninhibited laughter is the food of the soul nourishing us from within, we know instinctively that life is worthwhile.
With this in mind, allow me to end this column with a joke.
It is my hope that it might brighten your spirits, your day and your outlook on life:
A burglar breaks into a house one night.
He shines his flashlight around, looking for valuables and then picks up a CD player to place in his sack.
Suddenly, a strange voice echoes in the dark saying, “Jesus is watching you.”
The man quickly clicks off his flashlight and freezes. When he hears nothing more, he shakes his head, assumes he had been hearing things, clicks the light back on and resumes his search for valuables.
Just as he is disconnecting some stereo wires, he hears it again: “Jesus is watching you.”
Freaked out, he shines the light around frantically, looking for the source of the voice.
Finally, in the corner of the room, his flashlight beam came to rest on a parrot.
“Was that you talking to me?” he hisses at the parrot. “Yep,” the parrot confesses. “I’m trying to warn you.”
The burglar relaxed. “Warn me, huh? Who are you?”
“Moses,” replied the parrot.
“Moses?” the burglar laughed. “What kind of stupid people would name a parrot ‘Moses’?”
The bird answered, “Probably the same kind of people that would name a rottweiler ‘Jesus’.”
Issues of Faith is a rotating column by five religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. The Rev. Kate Lore is a minister at the Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Port Townsend. Her email is [email protected]