The Rev. Tom Morelli was our facilitator at a recent School Board of Trustees three-year strategic planning retreat. Prior to the weekend meeting, Deacon Morelli had us complete a Myers-Briggs personality profile, an ice-breaking exercise designed to help us see ourselves and each other through the lens of personality traits. Although it doesn’t appear on this exercise, one of my favorite personality traits is the ability to laugh. And, not just laugh, but to be able to laugh at myself. A friend of mine, after completely messing up a solo in our high school jazz band, sat down, chuckled, and said, “Boy, I really blew that one.” Two songs later, he nailed a much harder and more technical solo. I think laughing at his missed opportunity likely helped him to excel on the next one that came his way.
Last week on “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” a son and his father from Hawaii were featured. The son was behind the camera and his dad was center screen. The son said, “For the fifth time, Y-E-S spells yes.” The dad nods and says, “Yes.” The son says, “E-Y-E-S spells?” The dad says, “I don’t know. I have no idea. I’ve never heard of such a word.” In the next clip, the son says, “For the seventh time…” and they go through the same routine as before. The dad tries to pronounce the word, “e-Yes” but it doesn’t work which makes the son laugh even more. They try a few more times and the son, and others, laugh even more as the dad gets more frustrated. Finally, they hand him a piece of paper. He spells out E Y E S, and says, “Oh, eyes!” and gives out a belly laugh for at least half a minute as did everyone else in the room.
When my dad taught biology, for a time he was also the cheerleader faculty member. To celebrate the end of the football season, my parents invited the 14 member squad for dinner. Mom cooked all day, we borrowed tables from church, and made it so 18 people could eat in the dining and living rooms. Saturday night at 5 pm came and went. No cheerleaders. 5:30, still no cheerleaders. Dad called one of the cheer moms to find out if everyone had our address. As it turns out the captain was supposed to talk to dad about rescheduling but didn’t. The bottom line – no one came. Dad hung up the phone and told mom the news. My brother and I watched to see her reaction. She thought for a moment and then started laughing. And laughing and laughing. We invited friends over for an instant party and the fellowship time after church the following day got a lot of really good leftovers.
I think Jesus has a sense of humor. He said, “Why is it you can see the speck in your neighbor’s eye but you can’t see the log in your own eye!” (Mt 7:3) This, I believe, is not condemning or judgmental, but rather a funny over-exaggeration of what we choose to see and ignore. I also think Jesus talks with large hand movements. The “speck” he would show with his index finger pressed against his thumb and the “log” with outstretched hands for emphasis. I think it made people laugh and also see the silliness of their own ways.
The Book of Ecclesiastes tells us there is a time to laugh and a time to cry. As Christians, we’re doing a lot of crying lately. Let us also remember there is a time to laugh. And maybe laughing at ourselves is a good place to start.