Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”
Laughter... what is it? Dictionary.com says: to express mirth, pleasure, derision, or nervousness with an audible, vocal expulsion of air from the lungs... That sounds about right for what I am looking for; it is true that laughter can be expressed when nervous, I never really thought about that, but it made me think of a time in my youth...
My husband and I were still dating, and we went down the coast to a cottage that my sister’s family had and to have a bit of down time. The family were there and we had time together with them and then we had a favourite outing there, to go a little further down the coast to a small town called Ramsgate. At Ramsgate we loved to go and indulge in a treat of chocolate waffles smothered with syrup and ice-cream, (not maple syrup in those days mind you, a healthy option which we can enjoy these days.) This particular time we decided to have a bit of an adventure and go on the paddle boats.
Now Ramsgate was, like many of the little towns down the east coast of South Africa, on a river mouth that entered the Indian Ocean, and one of their sources of income would be paddle boats or canoes that one could rent by the hour and paddle up the river a little way and then back to port.
So off we went. A few hundred meters away from the hiring office, up the river, there was a bridge, and this was the freeway going over the river. So Richard decided to play a game: we have to get to the other side of the bridge before a car drove over us otherwise we would die! Not a problem... it was not a very wide bridge and we managed it no problem, and we traveled up the river and looked and saw and laughed and talked and life was bliss. We knew it was time to turn around after about 30 minutes so that we would have time to get back within the hour of the of the time allotted to us, and so we did. We were merrily paddling away and got back to the bridge. Same game... under the bridge with no cars passing overhead. No problem! Like I had said... it was not a very wide bridge, but this time it did not work! BAM! We were dead. I began to giggle... a nervous giggle. What was happening? Why were we not moving? It did not make sense to me, but Richard calmly noted that the tide was coming in and so we had to put in a bit more effort. Panic took over. My laughter grew and grew, I began to talk and laugh at top speed. What was going to happen? Would we be able to get back to the office in time? Would we have to pay for a second hour when in fact we did not even use it, and so I insisted on laughing, and we were simply standing still under the bridge and the cars were merrily driving over us and causing us to die over and over again.
In my mind this was very real, in my mind we were going to be stuck there forever. Not realistic in real life and not huge losses incurred if we were to pay a second hour, but it got me afraid and I was giggling full out!
Suddenly Richard turns to me and looks at me really sternly and states loudly, firmly and clearly: “Shut-up and paddle!”
I was not used to be talked to like that, by him anyway, and so I did exactly that: I stopped giggling, stopped my jabber and paddled, I paddled full and hard, in sync with him, and within minutes we were on the other side of the bridge.
I guess there is a life lesson there...laughter is a good thing, but it can also be a bad thing, when we allow the nervousness to take over.
Why all this talk about laughter anyway? Why did I even start with this? Well, as you most likely have heard... laughter is the best medicine. The Bible talks about a merry heart being nourishment to the bones...
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
And that is what I wanted to talk about. How laughing, being merry can help us to deal with everyday stressors. How finding little things to laugh at can stop us from becoming over stressed, maxed out, tired and dull. Let’s face it... planning a wedding (or 2) working and dealing with everyday things, figuring out the finances, waiting for a reply from a work place, and the list goes on, are all real stressors that we deal with in some way, shape or form... to be continued