They say that laughter is the best medicine, others say it’s the sunbeam of the soul, an instant vacation, and it sweeps the cobwebs from our hearts. If we’ve been fortunate to have friends who have helped us laugh, then we know the good feeling of laughing until our sides hurt. Did you know that children laugh up to 400 times a day and adults laugh about 15 times? Numbers like this make us wonder: What happened along the way that we lost our sense of humour?
Perhaps we laugh less because we have more worries and we’re less amused by those things that make kids leap for joy across a room. We see the world, our work, and our communities in a serious way, we know the dangers and risks of letting our guard down or missing a deadline. Maybe we’ve been hurt or put down. So we step through each day with concern, focus, and a serious intention to make everything work out. Laughter may be a welcome byproduct, but certainly not essential.
Fear can bring people together. Angry people rally together when they find a common cause. But even if the anger subsides and the problem solved, communities built around fear and anger never truly find peace. Laughter, however, brings people much closer together. Victor Borge said that “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.” It reminds us that for all our worries and concerns, we are in this together. Laughter and a sense of joy may truly be the best medicine. But there is something much more happening here than a giggle or guffaw. Communities that laugh together understand something fundamental about themselves: they know that they belong.
Children laugh often because they know that they will be OK. They run and play because they know snack time is coming up, they know that if they fall down a loving adult will come by to comfort them. They do not have to think about what they are wearing, or where they are going. Someone has their back. Kids do not laugh alone for very long, they laugh with their friends, with their dad and mom, and with their siblings. They laugh because they safely belong to a family.
When we live as though we are all alone and that the whole world rests on our shoulders, we would rightly be dour and afraid. But when we know we safely belong to a community, and that we are welcome as we are among others, we can laugh. We can let our guard down. We can trust that others have our back, that they will come alongside of us when we’re hurt, and they will provide for us if we’re in need. When we live alone, on our own, and for ourselves, the joy will eventually evaporate. But when we live in community and know that we belong, we nurture the great gifts of joy, peace, laughter and hope.
When we laugh together, we’re doing do much more than telling joke. We’re celebrating and building the very foundation of a truly life-giving community. As you discover that you belong here in Chestermere, may you also rediscover the joy of laughter and joy. Welcome home.