Moi, five (?) years old. Redondo Beach, Ca.
My netbook is propped on my lap as I type these words, the summer sounds of Southern California floating through my sister’s living room windows. The cool breezes, the rush of cars on the street, the sounds of new-to-me birds remind me I am Somewhere Else.
Somewhere Else besides my Seattle area home. A place where the sun and the sand the surf are less than a mile away down the highway. A place I remember like the lines in a book I read, where the words are etched in my memory, no, etched deep in my bones.
Last week, while visiting my other sister (I have two-how lucky am I?) we decided to spend an entire day at the beach. (L. also lives only a few miles from the ocean.) We hauled beach umbrellas–one a piece–beach chairs, thick towels, a cooler with lunch and our 60+ year old selves down to the shore. The sun was bright, the water temperature inviting…a perfect day.
After setting up camp and surveying the scene we contemplated our first dive into the ocean. Considering options–toes first touching the lap, lap, lapping waves or should we just run like fools and belly flop over a wave like crazy people?
Up out of our chairs, inching towards the water across the sand, we slap-splashed into the waves and voila! the crazy times had begun. My sister and I each dove into the soupy surf and came up sputtering and laughing. Laughing at the sight of our far-from-svelte selves and at the sheer joy of being in the water once again.
Every dive under the breakers prompted chortles of glee. These were not perfectly shaped curls to dive through but more like a salt water washing machine, churning us to pieces. Our guffaws signalled astonishment that we’d survived, sputtering as we came up for air after sloshing to the surface.
We were getting pummeled and we had a blast.
Three times that day we ventured into the water joining 2,000 of our closest friends as we frolicked in the saltwater like sun crazed fools. I can’t remember the last time I laughed that hard; it was so.much.fun.
There’s a reason God’s word says, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.” (Proverbs 17:22). Because it does. Laughing releases endorphins in the brain, relieving stress, strengthening the heart. The delight is like a daily dose of God-given touch on our wound-too-tight lives. Oh, how we need it.
Many times in conversations that followed I encouraged my sister (and myself) to take time to do something fun. Not just take time, but make time. We often think self-care and soul-care should consist of quiet and contemplative times, space for conversation, prayer with friends and the like.
However as we walk out our faith, I think we may have convinced ourselves (or maybe it’s just me) that fun and laughter are somehow less ‘spiritual.’
That relishing in delight and joy are just too carnal for those of us who call ourselves believers. As if Jesus wants us to wear our serious face all the time, you know, ’cause life is a Very Big Deal.
My point exactly; life IS way too serious. We live in a sin-wracked world, challenges face us daily, people die, our faith is tested, we can’t keep up. All the more reason we should revel in joy, make a space for laughter, allow opportunities for fun. And while we shouldn’t spend our days seeking it, we can live with open arms to make space in our days for delight. God knows we need it. God knows the world needs it.
Like medicine with eternal shelf-life, laughter can be a well of life, too. Jump in, get wet, and drink deep. Throw your hands in the air like a crazy fool once in a while and let God heal your soul.