Anyone who knows me knows that I have a wicked sense of humor, especially for really groan-producing puns. I have a very vivid imagination and it fuels my love for seeing the humor in things. I think life is too short not to laugh. Humor keeps us healthy, wealthy, and wise especially if we can laugh at ourselves from time to time. One of the most important things I have learned in my life - (and today is my birthday, so I am reflecting on my life...and laughing a lot) - is that in the light of eternity, many of the things we obsess over are not all that serious. And those which are serious are easier to get through if we have a positive attitude about it. I do not mean we ought to laugh at everything and take a Pollyanna attitude, or that we should be immature about the things that really matter. There are enough things that are so serious that we would be overwhelmed if we did not find humor in what we can. But to be truly childlike, the way Jesus teaches us to be, we should be able to see the humor in much of life and let it aid us in having a positive attitude. One might even call it "Easter joy."
In that vein, I would like to share a few things that were written to me over the 20-some-odd years (and some were odd!) in which I taught in a classroom. I admit I was always persnickety about some things in my teaching, such as spelling, grammar, and accuracy in detail about concepts. However, one of the chores that often brought a smile to my face (or even a guffaw), was correcting papers when they unwittingly provided me with entertainment. For example, did you know that Jesus curried Simon's mother in law? One of my freshmen “taught” me that. Another pearl of wisdom which one of my freshmen taught me is that "the rear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." I always have been completely behind God! (See what I mean?)
A few more brilliant insights, (my comments are in parenthesis):
- God sent Jesus, his only forgotten Son. (Uh oh!)
- At Pentecost the Holy Spirit came and their tongues appeared to be on fire. (Too much jalapeño in the dip again?)
- Luke is called "beloved physician" in Paul's letter to the Collisions. (Better get Maaco!)
- God established a convent with Noah and said he would never again destroy the earth.
Oh, and here is a triple whammy: The Lord told Damascus to go to Saul to restore his sight. He converted from Roman Catholic to the Christian religion. (Yep; three errors in one.)
If you think my sophomores were exempt, think again. Here are some gems from them:
-When Jesus returns, the bodies of every human will be reunited with their soles. (Quite a feet!)
-St. Teresa was one of two Jews to convert to Christianity at this time, the first was Jesus. (Wait, what??)
-The definition of Viaticum: the Viatican council committee that works with the Pope. (For the record, Viaticum is Reconciliation, Eucharist and Anointing given to a dying person. Oh my!)
A personal favorite: St. Louis de Montfort erected Calvary scenes and crosses everywhere he went. One cross soared 50 feet. The government felt it was too large and wanted it destroyed. The end was on the Feast of the Exhalation of the Cross. (I am out of breath after that one.)
I think you get the point, although I am having a difficult time stopping, especially when I see that one of my students wrote that "the three levels of Holy Orders are diaconate, Protestante and Episcopalian." (Should be presbyterate and episcopacy, which to my knowledge are not separate religions, though some might argue! Okay....just kidding!)
Even though I read that Jesus was born in the Jordan River, and that the man who had Him put to death was Pompous Pilate, I know my students learned something. At least I think so! Seriously, their errors provided me with a smile quite often when I was doing a very tedious task. For those of you who are non-teachers, when you have 125 or more students, many of them taking the same course, you read the same thing over and over (ad nauseam) when grading. I read every word every student ever wrote me. It was very boring sometimes, but as you can see, it was also entertaining. It also gave me insights into who they were. I really did learn a lot from them. It was a labor of love to read all of that for so many years. But without it, my life would have been so much the poorer. (And trust me, I am not laughing at my former students, but with them. Everyone who wrote something silly realized it afterward, I am sure.)
Besides the importance of laughing at our own miscues, is a reminder not to think everything we hear is true or right. We need to take the time to think things through. It is easy to believe what we hear and read because it is easier than to really reflect on it. I am thinking of the commercial on TV in which the young woman believes everything she reads on the internet, including that her boyfriend is a "French model" even though he does not look anything like a model and obviously cannot speak any French! Our faith is really no different. We need to reflect on what we are taught in order to really assimilate it into our minds and hearts. But first we need to hear it. I read in Benedict XVI's book Jesus of Nazareth that he believes that one of the biggest threats to our faith is that we put our spiritual lives and our prayer time on the back burner, often putting it off for many years as if it is not as important as the day-to-day issues of our lives. The result is that our faith grows cold. We grow distant from God and we become ignorant about the basics of what we say we believe. At best we go through the motions, but our attention is elsewhere: our priorities are out of order.
It is never too late to make a regular time for prayer and to take a little time each day to read from the Catechism, the Bible, or some other spiritual book. It is never too late to take a course offered at one's parish (or another parish) to refresh and renew. It is never too late to rekindle our friendship with Jesus, who I believe had a wonderful sense of humor. Hanging around the 12 apostles had to make Him laugh! Really! Can you imagine how silly Peter looked as he tried to walk on water at Jesus' invitation and then began to sink? (Mt 14: 22-33) Jesus must have roared with laughter. Or can you imagine how much God must have laughed when He made Balaam's donkey begin to speak to him? (Numbers 22:2-35) Or when He pushed down the statue to the pagan god in their temple a couple of nights in a row? (1 Sam 5:1-5. But read the entire story from chapter 4 through 5. It is a scream!)
God loves it when we share our lives with Him. I think if we learned to laugh a bit at our own humanness we can become more accepting of the humanness of others. Then maybe we can be like Moses, (who was the world's first basket case....) and more like the apostles, (who I hear were instructed by Jesus to wait in Jerusalem until they resurrect at the Second Coming of Christ...oh wait, that's not right...but it is what a student said.) The point is that we can learn to not take everything so seriously that we make it a chore and a burden. Our faith is one of joy and one of resurrected life. We have left the tomb behind and are in the light of faith and love. We are an Easter people! What will attract others to our faith is our joy, and that we are humble enough to not take ourselves so very seriously.
May we have the simplicity of heart to allow ourselves to be filled with the Spirit of Joy! May we be moved to spend more time with our loving Lord, who loves the sound of our laughter! May we be inspired to delve more deeply into our own faith, in order to know the beauty and joy of being loved by God such as we are! And may we have Easter joy! Let us meet in the heart of the Lord, which is filled with joy and gladness. Peace!
Oh yes...and remember not to worry: God loves a cheerful giver....but He also accepts from a grouch. Have a great day!
All the photos are mine. The top is a silly sign I saw in New Mexico. These signs were everywhere! Apparently there are those who believe that in the zones where those signs are, aliens have mutilated cattle. (Not sure, but I think that is a bit of bull!)
The second one is a sign I saw in Ireland, taken from the windshield of our rental car. No, we did not go off the cliff...
The last is a sandpiper taken at the Gulf of Mexico. Those little guys always look like they are having fun. If you have never watched their dance with the waves, do it. You are in for a treat that is sure to produce a smile.
Finally all the quotes of students are real and are in a notebook I kept for many years, commonly referred to by my colleagues as "The Book." There are so many more than the ones I included here.
Heart Speaks to Heart