December 2, 2011

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

Laughter is indeed a necessary blessing in our lives

Shirley Vogler MeisterNot very long ago, a dear friend, Mary Rubeck Benson, took me to a restaurant near my home in Christ the King Parish on the north side of Indianapolis for a belated birthday lunch.

Mary and her husband are members of Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ Parish in Indianapolis. She and I met while attending classes at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis in the 1980s.

When Mary returned home after our wonderful get-together, she sent me this e-mail message:

“I so enjoyed our lunch. How I wish I would have had a camera or video camera. I’m sure that Christ was laughing with us. I think laughter must be music to God and the angels. When joyous laughter drifts to heaven, it must fill God with happiness.

“To me, laughter is when the soul is so full of happiness and playfulness that it bubbles to the surface in chuckles and belly laughs. It is good because we are enjoying the gift of friendship and family. It is living and loving as God intended.”

From those words, readers can probably guess that Mary is also a writer! We’ve been friends ever since our college classes together.

The special laughter that came at the end of our lunch was sparked by food servers and other restaurant staff members who sang “Happy Birthday” in an unusual and playful manner.

Mary realized that “laughter is the language of the soul” as well as also “being the best medicine.”

That day, I was in pain because of compression fractures in my back. But the pain was mostly forgotten as we enjoyed lunch together then were serenaded by the staff.

Before beginning to write this column, I searched for additional comments about laughter on the Internet to share with my readers:

“Laughter is the closest thing to the grace of God and is the language of the soul. … Experts tell us that we grow up the first time when laughing at ourselves. … Without laughter, life would be intolerable—and it is so contagious. … The study of laughter is called gelotology. … Laughter is caused by the epiglottis constricting the larynx.”

I’m not sure that I needed to know the latter information, but there are countless explanations for laughter.

Readers can find many more on the Internet. The main thing to remember is to never use laughter to humiliate others or in any other distasteful or inappropriate manner.

I often laugh at myself and, happily, most everyone I know loves laughter, too. Sometimes, while doing chores, I will pass a mirror and realize that I’m smiling—as well I should be.

Life is wonderful despite the formidable challenges that come our way. Let us thank God for the beautiful gift of appropriate laughter!

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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