This week we will prayerfully consider the 3 words of our goal: Justice, Mercy, and Humility (faithfulness), and the 4 words I introduced Sunday as a posture for achieving those: Welcome, Authenticity, Laughter, Love (building the WALL).
The word of the day is Laughter.
Scripture: Eccl 7: 1-14, John 15: 1-11, Phil 4: 4-9
Thought: Laughter is more than a momentary expression of mirth. Some people (myself included) sometimes laugh inappropriately, when something very uncomfortable is happening. I used to treat this experience as an embarrassment in my inability to respond appropriately.
Then I realized I could own up to the pain of the moment being somehow overwhelmingly sorrowful with only bent-over weeping and shame as the other response. Recognizing awkward laughter as a clue to the reality of suffering enabled me to shift gears, react less often with what others know to be discordant, and begin to experience the deep pain in the world around me in new ways. And more coherently in my outward and inward experience.
The writer of Ecclesiastes suggests the sorrow is a better dwelling place than the joy. In Philippians, Paul also suggests that we rejoice in sorrow as we do in good times. Working in a hospice ministry, I have learned that those who coped best with their terminal illnesses were the ones who confessed the pain and sorrow of knowing the defined limits of their lifespan. Once they admitted openly and discussed this well, they found a better life, a life of their choosing, even as they lived their last days.
In other words, as Ecclesiastes says in vs. 3, when we acknowledge the sadness, our heart becomes glad. No longer do we run from pain or suffering. We run to and through it.
What sadness do you need to acknowledge and welcome into your life today for the lesson it might teach you? What suffering can you begin to look squarely in the face and therein find something to laugh about, to make your heart glad?
Prayer: God of woes and well-being, who came to address the pain and suffering of the world, help me this day. Come into my life and address the pain and suffering in my world. In so doing, may I find my joy and the joy you have prepared for me. Amen.
Peace, Rev Bev
Rev. Beverly F. Ostrowski Contract Pastor Rock Spring Presbyterian Church 1824 Piedmont Avenue NE Atlanta, GA 30324