Lighten Up: the Art of Laughter, Joy and Letting God – May Synchroblog

aughter the best medicine

aughter the best medicine via emotion images

I mentioned yesterday that my post was a contribution to the May Synchroblog. Here are the other posts – great stuff and well worth a read.

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Lighten Up – Laughter is the Best Medicine.

A couple of weeks ago I was chatting to Ricci Kilmer, about how much we miss her daughter Catie at our Mustard Seed staff and retreat times. I remember her telling us once that we needed more fun in our meetings. Not surprisingly, she was often the one who came up with ideas of fun things for us to do together.

At one of our MSA retreats she made us all into chocolate tasters. We were each given a small piece of chocolate to savour. We each closed our eyes, and sat with the chocolate on the palm of our hand,breathing in the richness of its aroma. Then we got to taste it, noticing its texture, the way it tasted on our tongues and stirred our senses. With much laughter and hilarity we shared our thoughts. Then we opened our eyes and with relish licked the now molten chocolate from fingers.

savouring chocolate

The wonder of chocolate

I couldn’t help but think of this as I read the invitation to participate in this month’s synchroblog

One thing feels clear about the faith blogging world–we can be kind of serious most of the time.  Serious about beliefs, theology, and hard conversations about the intersection of life and faith.  It is serious stuff we’re talking about, but sometimes what gets missed in all of the intensity is joy & laughter & lightness.  It’s probably a good idea to learn how to not take ourselves quite so seriously.  The May 2012 Synchroblog is centered on the idea of what it might mean to lighten up a little–personally, spiritually, professionally, or in any area of our lives.   You can write about why that’s easy or hard for you, share something funny or humorous, or any other angle that feels easy and right (remember, part of this is about lightening up!)

Its true, I often think that most of us take our faith too seriously. How often after all do we imagine Jesus laughing or God enjoying a good joke. Yet I think that God is full of laughter and humour. It bubbles up in the wonder of creation – who else could create a dog like the Komondor.

Or animals that act like these

Or give us the imagination to do things like this first wedding dance video

Imagination, creativity, the very act of laughter itself show that God is a fun loving God. And it does even seem to improve our health as this articlesuggest. Maybe it shouldn’t surprise us therefore to discover that lot of God’s creativity can make us smile and feel happy.  Even compost gives you a high. The earthy smell of good rich composted soil, or even of compost straight from your pile produces bacteria that increase the serotonin in your brain and make you feel happy. As Pagan Kennedy says in her article How To Get High on Soil, 

Scientists call it “geosmin,” this dirt smell that lends the earthy taste to beets and carrots. It’s the flavor of life. Read the entire article

No wonder God’s first action after creation was to plant a garden and no wonder he calls us to steward creation. He knows that we are happiest when we have our hands (or our noses) in the dirt. Now that seems like something to really laugh about.

Learning to lighten up for me would mean taking time to enjoy the humour of life more. It would mean taking more time for fun and laughter. Working on this post today has definitely made me realize that this is something I need to do.

Here is the complete list of posts

Life Unfurling – May Synchroblog

Each month I try to participate in a synchroblog run by friends around the world.  This month’s topic Life Unfurling, which revolved around questions about what we have given up or let go of for God was particularly stimulating.  Here are the posts so far and I am sure that there are still more to come

Giving Up For God – What Does It Cost?

The following post is written as a contribution to a monthly synchroblog.  This month it is hosted by Kathy Escobar.  The topic is Have you found more life by letting go of something? Tomorrow I will post a list of all the contributions for reflection.

Giving up without regret

When I first heard the topic my mind went into high gear remembering all that I have given up – a home in New Zealand that I wept over before leaving to join the mercy ship Anastasis; the secure and comfortable life of a general practitioner with all the accompanying advantages of a good salary; dear friends I will never see again who live scattered around the world; the opportunity to to live close to my brothers and watch my niece and nephew grow up; even the possibility of having children myself.  All of these I have given up at some point in my life .

But then I stopped to think – have I really given up anything that has not been replaced tenfold with something deeper and more fulfilling?  My momentary regrets gave way to amazingly fulfilling images: cleft lips and palates healed, eyes opened, starving children nourished, the opportunity to provide medical care for thousands in Africa, Asia and Central America; a worldwide network of friends and colleagues who offer hospitality to Tom and I wherever and whenever we travel; involvement in a very special and fulfilling ministry and life in Seattle; and stretching far beyond anything else an incredible opportunity to grow in my faith and constantly be surprised by the wonder of a God whose love and care I experience every day.

The giving up has always resulted in a more intimate and richer relationship to God.  When I look back over the years I cannot think of one thing I really regret giving up.  This does not mean that the giving up was easy.  It was often done with much struggle and tears, sometimes with heartache that seemed to leave a wrenching void in my soul, at least for a season, until I started to catch glimpses of the new seeds that God had planted in the darkened recesses of my being.

Giving up for God costs us everything, at least it costs us everything that seems familiar and secure but it also burst the realms of our imagination with new possibilities for life and faith that we have never thought possible before.  I am constantly humbled by the the paradoxical ways in which God works.  I have often thought that I was giving up life but in actual fact I was finding life – God’s life.

I cannot imagine a life that is more fulfilling than the one I live now.  In my wildest dreams as a young adult I never imagined God could use my life to impact the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.  Sometimes I have felt that I was giving up faith too but I realize now that what I was giving up was my narrow culture bound vision of God to plunge into an ever expanding understanding of the love of God.  And yet I know that no matter how much I learn I will always only scratch the surface of what there is to know about God.

In the future I suspect there will be many more times that God will ask me to give up something I am hold onto tightly and I know that the giving up will never be easy.  My prayer is that I will always be able to trust that in the giving up I will learn more about God and become more of the person God intends me to be.