This past year has been like a treadmill trek with the degrees of incline jacked up higher every (day, week, month). The news generally has been grim.
Have you felt a need for lightness and joy?
I certainly have!
Goodreads Review: Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor, and Laughter Are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life
Fun is always ON in Rev. Joseph Martin’s Between Heaven and Mirth, a marriage of spirituality and smiles. Early in the book the author reminds us that “Angels can fly because they can take themselves lightly,” a quote attributed to G. K. Chesterton.
Martin, a Jesuit priest, encourages Christians to be “salt in bland times, leaven in flat times, and light in dark times” (142). He shows how Jesus’ parables are “often the stuff of comedy, and how the gospels reveal Jesus to be a man with a palpable sense of joy” (blurb). Readers will find amusing sidebars, footnotes, and jokes in the book. I found his exploration of Psalm 65 particularly insightful, a psalm filled with joy, delight, and gratitude.
However, Father Martin’s resumé is no laughing matter. Before entering the Jesuits in 1988, he majored in marketing and accounting at the Wharton School of Business and then used his skills as a priest to help the poverty-stricken in Kenya to sell their handmade wares, supporting their families. His work has been published in The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and featured on NPR’s Fresh Air. Though infused with funny stories and jokes, the book is scholarly with research comprising a 15-page index and a 4-page list of references.
Yes, funny stories do infuse the book. This one caught me off guard as I turned several pages of serious exposition:
An elderly man walks into a confessional:
MAN: “Father, I’m a ninety-five-year-old widower. I have many children and grandchildren, and yesterday I went out on a date with a twenty-five -year-old supermodel!”
PRIEST: “Well, that doesn’t sound like a sin. You should know that as a Catholic. Dating is not a sin.”
MAN: “Oh, I’m not Catholic, Father, I’m Jewish.
PRIEST: “So why are you telling me all this!”
MAN: I’m ninety-five years old! I’m telling everybody!”
James Martin declares that holy people can be joyful people as his subtitle explains: Why Joy, Humor, and Laughter are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life. In my view, he has proved his point in this fine book, which I rated with five stars.
Here is my attempt to take myself lightly, wearing a goofy hairstyle and whimsical dress.
As you can tell, this photo is mighty old. Indeed it is old, but not as ancient as pictures with white borders and pinked edges attached to embossed corners in thick albums.
My Southern Lady friend Carolyn found these snapshots of me as she sorted through old photos, tidying up in preparation for a move. As context, she reminded me that the hostess at her 50th birthday party suggested we come dressed up as a storybook character. I came dressed as ___________________. Honestly, I don’t know where the jump rope came from.
As I declared in a blog post some time ago, Mennonites Don’t Dance — at least not when I grew up in conservative Lancaster County, Pennsylvania — but former Mennonites may attempt a little prance!
What storybook character do you think I was trying to portray in the photos above?
Do you remember a crazy outfit or costume you have worn? A funny story about yourself? Someone you know? We are waiting with bated breath!
Good morning, Marian! You are SO cute in those photos. I love the pink shoes. 😀
I can’t think of a funny story right now, but I’ll share that I bought a book of “Dad jokes” for my husband–not that he needed more, but. . .
Doug is a hoot, often clowning around on your Monday posts. A mathematician with a sense of humor, lucky you!
Thanks for observing the pink shoes. Now my choice is RED! Thanks, Merril.
I thought maybe pink flats and red heels. 😏
You got it — although I don’t/can’t wear heels anymore.
My guess is Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, maybe.
I don’t think I’ve ever worn a funny costume, but I do know that you have to be careful what you choose to wear. One Hallowe’en I dressed up as an accident victim. I had my arm in a sling, and I drew bruises all over my face. Everyone who saw me said, “You look TERRIBLE.” By the end of the evening I FELT terrible. That was my lesson in learning how much we internalize the words of others. We need to be kind – it makes people feel good. When we’re not kind it really does hurt more than we realize.
My guess is that your intentions were good: You just wanted to be creative AND dramatic. Too bad the costume choice back-fired.
I believe someone in my school days dressed up this way. I don’t remember anyone freaking out about it though. Thanks for adding your story to the mix here, Arlene!
Your book review struck a chord. As hard as his ministry was, he had a wonderful sense of humor, which arose from a genuine sense of delight in his fellow human beings. If he were still alive, I would give him the book for Christmas. He would have loved it.
That must have been quite a 50th birthday bash! I have no idea what storybook character you were impersonating. Someone skipping merrily down the garden path?
Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow? That’s as good a guess as any. I’m glad you enjoyed the book review too, maybe an enticement to read it. Thanks, Liz!
I could see Mary, Mary quite contrary. You’re welcome, Marian!
Isn’t it fun to receive old photos from friends or relatives that you had completely forgotten about?? This is so sweet and young. You couldn’t have been 50 at this party. So you had ballet slippers on, pony tails, and a daring neckline. I have no clue.
I received a fun photo from our early married days that a cousin passed on to me because he thought I would enjoy it: taken at a family reunion at a lake lodge where my aunt teased us about being honeymooners.
Yes, I agree, Melodie. I may have this photo in an album from decades ago. But Carolyn slipped it in an envelope just in time for this post. Serendipitous, I’d say. Thanks!
Haha – I can’t guess which story book character, but what’s crazy is that I used to wear my hair like that in the summers when I was a teenager!
Thanks, Barbara. Yes, I wanted to look young, so I picked a pony-tail hairstyle. I don’t remember trying to imitate a specific character.
You were rocking some mighty fine pink slippers there. I’ve no idea who you were supposed to be, but I like the pigtails, too. As for crazy outfits I’ve worn, too many to count. Fortunately there are no photos of me in them, so it’s all behind me now.
You mean you don’t dress up crazy anymore? Methinks you’d keep this thing going. Ha!
It’s all behind me too. Thanks, Ally.
I am going to guess that you were portraying Pippi Longstockings in that picture. You look adorable!! I love dressing up. Hubby and I went to a costume party as Henry VII and Anne Boleyn once which was fun. Another time we went as vampires. I made my face almost white and wore black lipstick and eyeshadow and wore a long black wig. When hubby saw me he said, “Oh my, you look awful!” Another time we went as pirates and I had a fuller beard than he did.
I wonder if your wild costumes were part of pageantry in Spain.
It makes sense that a storybook writer would like to dress up as a character. I’m glad Paul plays along, doubling the fun. Thanks for sharing, Darlene!
These crazy costumes were worn in Canada when we were younger. Here in Spain we are spectators as the Spanish folks are experts at pageantry. Yes, I´m lucky Paul has been willing to play along. two years ago I attended a writer´s group meeting, which happened to fall on Halloween, as Jane Austen. I was the only one in a costume!
I too thought of Pippi Longstocking, but I am not familiar with the details other than the hair.
I believe Father Martin is Mary Karr’s spiritual mentor. Isn’t that interesting? https://oldfirstbrooklyn.org/2021/02/22/learning-to-pray-mary-karr-interviews-father-james-martin/
Pippi Longstocking? Maybe, maybe not, Shirley. Your guess is as good as mine: I just wanted to look young and fanciful, and I’m sure I had a character in mind, but just don’t recall exactly who right now.
I did not know that Father Martin was Mary Karr’s mentor. I have seen her this week as a commentator on Ken Burns’ documentary of Ernest Hemingway. running on PBS this week. Thanks for the link, which I’ll check out now.
You do look adorable. Just to be different could you be
Little Bo Peep? Oh where Oh where are my sheep?
Bingo! I think that may be the look I was going for. But, where oh, oh where is my staff to bring them home, “wagging their tails behind them”?
Thanks for the good guess, Jean.
(I hope we can have some good laughs when we get together again – soon!)
Could it have been Cinderella? I’m looking at the ballet slippers. You are so cute!! I get a kick out of the older women sitting behind you, enjoying the show! You’re right, Marian, laughter is so important in this sad world. Sometimes my sisters and I just look at each other and break out in gales of laughter until we all run to the bathroom at the same time! This has transferred to my daughters as well. After the uncontrollable laughter everything feels light and the stress disappears!
My sister Jean, who commented above, and another sister who lives here will be getting together later this month. We are just as you describe: gales of laughter and leakage!
I think our feelings are heightened because we have a shared history. My sisters and I have known each other all of our lives and have similar memories which trigger what you described about your own siblings. Thanks for adding this, Elfrieda!
Love your character costume… Sweet memories! We loved playing dress up with Mom or Aunt Lou’s old clothes they kept in trunks. We even put on plays. 🙂 xo
Bette, I don’t remember my sisters and I putting on plays, except enacting “Wedding,” the details of which you’ve seen in a memoir chapter. All this nurtures our imaginations, doesn’t it?
All those admirable qualities of James Martin – he is a hero for sure. Joy Humour and Laughter are necessary qualities to live a meaningful life .. as are dancing and prancing especially in pink shoes and braids. Your photos are lovely Marian – you’re clearly having fun!
Dressing up is not my best thing – maybe it’s buried in my bones but when I was a mere 4 year old and in a frog costume and on stage, and the princess was about to kiss me, I started laughing, more like giggling uncontrollably until they had to draw the curtains. An episode that was repeated in my adult years when we were enacting Psyche & Amor. I was wearing a gold mask on stage. I heard my friend snort in the audience, which made me laugh, which made my fellow stage ‘actors’ laugh until we were on the floor laughing.
Laughter is massage for the soul for sure, and apparently you are good at it. Probably the absurdity of the costumes or maybe a touch of stage-fright tickled your funny bone. OR, perhaps just your amazing sense of humor.
Thanks for sharing these tidbits, Susan!
I love these photos of you, Marion. A big smile coming from me. Alice? Or Dorothy? Or Marion’s inner wild child. All is adorable from shoes to jump rope. As a kid, I often organized neighborhood plays and loved dressing up in homemade costumes. Later, I dressed up a few times for parties with Vic, one for his 50th birthday party where he asked everyone to dress as if from the Middle East since our country was in the midst of the ill-advised Gulf War. We were opposed to war and especially this one, but we had found a way to have fun dressing our part and doing a few circle dances together. My “fun quotient” has been way down since Vic’s death. No one encourages me to laugh and play the way he did.
Yup, the wild child.
Several commenters here, also authors, have described organizing plays with costumes as children. I guess it’s an early manifestation of an active imagination.
Now we are at a different stage in life. I see your playfulness with Disco and your art work, positively amazing. We both married men who upped our playfulness quotients, a great description. Elaine. Thank you for sharing the antics!
You are a delight in these photos. I think Little Bo Peep may be the closet description of your get up. I think you were the only on there who had on shoes that allowed you to jump rope. And a fine job you did. Gales of laughter and maybe a bit of envy. Loads of laughter in our past.
Yes, loads of laughter in our past, Carolyn. And I hope in our future as well when we can gather again more often.
See what your sharing did: Half of a blog post and all of the fun in this week’s entry. Huge thanks for your kind gift, sweet friend.
Lovely pictures of you, Marian. I don’t know why, but as I look at these pictures, I keep thinking of Alice in Wonderland. You just have a Wonderland kind of look.
One Halloween when I was around 13 or 14 years old, I fashioned a couple of antennas out of aluminum foil and pinned them into my long, reddish blonde hair. Then I put several drops of green food coloring into a bottle of makeup base and spread the green liquid all over my face, ears, neck, arms, hands, and legs. To top it off, I wore a wild hippie flower power type of dress, mini skirt length, of course, as those were popular at the time.
I looked so much like an alien visitor from outer space, I actually scared people. I almost scared myself when I looked in the mirror! Unfortunately, nobody took a picture of me. That was long before everyone had a phone with a camera in their pocket.
Alice in Wonderland is a good guess, Linda Lee!
You do have a wild imagination, which explains your super-creative get-up. WOW! Thanks for sharing the description with us. If you scared your friends, your must have looked like a very convincing alien – ha!
Thanks for checking in today. I hope you and your family are staying well. 🙂
Great words from Martin, Marian, this sounds like a very good and useful book. I love the pictures of you dressed up. So carefree and fun. Have a lovely Thursday.
Thanks, Robbie! We acted carefree and fun even though we were beginning middle age. It’s important to “cut loose “with friends when we can.
Many of your books, especially the Sir Chocolate series, inspire playfulness, a very good thing. Again, thanks!
You are right, Marian. We need to let our hair down and relax from time to time.
Marian you look carefree and beautiful…my dress… not sure its a regret as I was young and I brought this dress through a newspaper advert made of tinfoil…bright and definitely silver however I so wish I had a photo and I don’t…I only wore it once and caused quite a stir from memory it was stuck together at the seams by sticky tape…How I manged to stay decent I don’t know I do remeber that…sigh…x
Carol, the “carefree and beautiful” was nearly thirty years ago. Age has snuck up on me.
I do wish you had a photo of that silvery outfit stuck together with sticky tape. It sound rather revealing – ha? Thanks for stopping to comment
You look really lovely, Marian. And who doesn’t like to dress up every now and then? Right now, we need all the laughter we can get!
Fatima, that was my motive for this post. Last week I wrote about Covid-19 again, “lessons learned,” I believe. And then I thought, we have been soaked in this topic for over a year now. And, as important as it is to be vigilant, we need a break for thoughts about illness and all that goes with it.
Thanks for the compliment, my friend, and stay well in your cozy home.
Look at that innocent looking face, bless you ! I’m thinking Dorothy-Wizard Of Oz . I’ve always loved dressing up , it’s such good fun being someone else ,another character. I always wanted to be an actress . I have a quote from my first boss of a hairdressing salon I worked at when I confessed what I really wanted to be ‘ You’d make a good booming actress-you ‘ .
I don’t think she was complementary 😂.
I dressed as a punk at a fancy dress once . I was all bin liner, safety pin and mad make-up …but I felt good . We could all do with some of that right now . What say you Marion?
Well, Marian sez:”Go for it, Cherry Actress Extrordinaire. Why not? “You make a good booming actress–you,” and I mean that as a compliment too, not sarcastic as your first boss may have meant it. I absolutely know you have a sense of humor, so obvious in your witty comments. Bless you too! xox
Marian, you constantly surprise me. I don’t know what character you were dressed as, but you were adorable! And, you still are. It looks like you were having a lot of fun. You and Cliff are always a lot of fun to be around. Thanks for sharing.
It is always amazing to look at old pictures. There are so many beautiful and fun memories attached to them. I have worn too many fun and crazy outfits that I can’t even remember but this was such a lovely read.
Hello, Kritika, and welcome. I am glad you enjoyed the sentiment and the photos. It looks as though you are writing from Italy, one of our favorite European destinations. Of course, I made an album of photos and stories of our visit. My husband had the courage to drive in Rome, quite an experience.
Thanks for the compliments, Bonnie. I believe the event took place at Bernice Tatum’s home if you remember back that far – ha!
We will have to get together again soon now that we have been vaccinated. As always, I appreciate your reading and commenting here. 🙂
Marian — I absolutely LOVE the photographs of you. Oh, how FUN! And your wonderful review of “Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor, and Laughter Are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life” made me add it to my must-read list.
I’m glad this post gave you a boost, as if you needed one.
YOUR new book arrived in the mail as few days ago, and although I’m reading 3 books more or less simultaneously, I am so intrigued with your thriller, I may push it ahead of the others.
So many books, so little time . . . !
Laurie, you are an authoring genius: I admire your discipline in writing, publishing, and marketing your books. In my view, you could rest a day or two on your laurels. 🙂
Laughter and fun are so important in life and in relationships. Contrary to what our lifestyle suggests, Mark and I don’t have enough fun. Our frugality has something to do with that, but also keeping this lifestyle – which is often challenging – going.
As my mother-in-law mentioned yesterday “Whenever I talk to my friends about your lifestyle, they think that you are never stressed and don’t have any worries since you don’t work 9-5 and have no children. And they wonder what you do all day. Yet, you two are always busy and always stressed about something.”
But, your post and request is about fun and joy… We didn’t have Halloween in Belgium when I grew up and – obviously – as nomads, Mark and I don’t have chests full of funny, funky clothes to dress up… My joy comes from wildlife encounters and travel experiences and sharing those in photos and text with others. 🙂
Well, Liesbet, you don’t have to disabuse me of the idea that your life as an author, even as a nomad, is all fun and games. I have been an eyewitness to your struggles to birth your book baby, which of course requires true grit.
I know you revel in nature and enjoy socializing with like-minded friends, and maybe that’s enoug “fun” right now. You are fortunate to have Mark who has been supporting you through the challenges, Maya to nurture, and your book promo–purpose enough! 🙂
Somehow I had missed this post – horrors. And I love the title of Between Heaven and Mirth. Absolutely delightful. One of my best friends is a (now retired) Presbyterian minister, and he was, and is, the most irreverent reverend I ever met! In a good way. He joked/jokes about things that ministers weren’t supposed to joke about, but got people’s attention AND added a moral in there. Now, as for you, I didn’t think you were dressed “as” anything but adorable Marian!
My dear Pam: Don’t beat yourself up: After all, you are writing another BOOK. Big stuff; huge drain from time tanks.
My artist husband is an ordained minister too, but his “congregation” has been mostly kids in public schools. When my friends learned of his ordination, they burst out laughing. Yes, it’s possible to be godly and goofy too! Kids need character building training, but they don’t necessarily like to be preached to.
Huge thanks for reading and commenting here. By the way, I don’t mind if you skip a post here and there. Sometimes it’s necessary to keep our sanity. Yes?
Yes! ((( )))