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Laughter has been a real gift to me this week. I was finally reunited in person with two close friends. I can’t much recall what we talked of, but we laughed, and laughed. It was a tonic, and I could feel it building me back up after months of living alone in lockdown.
The bible story that springs to mind when I think about laughter is in the first book, Genesis. Sarah, in her nineties and long thought barren, overhears God’s plan for her to become pregnant. Her first response is laughter. When she gives birth to Isaac she says ‘God has brought laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.’ (Genesis 21:6).
Something that intrigues me about Sarah is that she laughed, but she didn’t say no. I wonder if Sarah’s laughter at this divine joke ever faltered into fear and anxiety that her 90-year-old body would not be able to cope with the physiological stress of pregnancy. Or perhaps the sound of that laughter carried her through those nine months, reminding her of God’s promise being fulfilled.
Laughter is sometimes described as the sound of joy. I have noticed that laughter is something that can bridge gaps and form bonds like nothing else. Laughter at a joke, or even like Sarah, at an idea so out there all you can do is laugh.
When I think of Sarah’s story, I hear her laughter as courage and as a challenge to us all, not to just laugh away those ideas which are so ridiculous – and could just change the world! – but to embrace them and allow our laughter to carry us through.
Sarah laughed, but she didn’t say no. As I laugh, I am reminded to be open to the wonderful, wild, and creative ways God responds to our prayers.
Parish Assistant, Kilmore and Oban