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!