A Merry Heart
By Jane Thornton
One rainy afternoon, I popped some corn and settled into the corner of the couch for a good read. Alone, I couldn’t quite finish the whole batch—not for lack of trying. The cooling kernels lost their appeal, so I lowered the bowl to the floor to be dealt with at a slow point in the plot. Soon my itchy, runny nose demanded attention. But I was cozy and warm. No box of Kleenex sat on the end table. What to do? The only slightly greasy paper towel on top of the popcorn made a handy hankie. The jangle of the phone roused me from my engrossed perusal of the novel. After tending to the call, I made a pit stop for a drink and headed back to the sofa, immediately re-involved in the story. My teenage daughter Meredith plopped onto the other end and flicked on the television. I barely looked up. A crunching sound infringed upon my consciousness. I transferred my attention.
“Merry! Stop!” I screeched but couldn’t hold back a choked giggle.
A defensive, even offended, look creased her brows. “What?” Her hand clutched the porcelain-covered, metal bowl. “You weren’t eating it.” I could feel my lips squiggle, trying not to grin. “I put my boogers in that bowl.” Chewed, spitty popcorn spewed from her mouth back into the dish. Like a scalded cat, she was off the couch and out of the room. More spitting noises and the sound of tooth brushing emanated from the nearest bathroom. I collapsed into my corner, laughing. Meredith slunk back into the room, reproach stiffening every line of her body. I roared. Tears rolled down my face. My stomach hurt and my cheeks ached. Endorphins flooded my entire being. Meredith did not appreciate my humor. Her displeasure just set me off again. I hugged her and apologized, but throughout the afternoon, occasional sputters of laughter shook me like earthquake aftershocks.
My recurrent amusement brought back visions of my mother’s similar reaction long ago during my teen years. My oh-so-capable father had come back from a round of errands sopping wet. After some probing questions, the truth revealed itself. This skilled, competent, Marine handyman had driven through the carwash, forgetting to roll up his window. Thirty years later, we can still set Mom off with a one or two word reminder of the scene.
Some of the best laughs I have had, have been at the expense of family members, and vice-versa, I might add. My kids still enjoy their memory of the entire clan painting red dots on their chins in mockery of a tiny blemish on my porcelain skin; and I don’t believe my family is unusually cruel. I hear similar stories from many friends and acquaintances. We love to laugh at each other’s (and hopefully our own) imperfections.
A gift from God. His proverb “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.” Proverbs 17:22 (KJV) displays his age-old understanding of endorphins.
And He joins in. We know that He “will rejoice over [us] with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV) Sometimes we get so wrapped up in other popular images of God the Father—comforter, disciplinarian, savior—that we forget He created laughter and joy. With His great perspective, I imagine he sees the humor in many situations where we do not. Remember 100-year-old Abraham and his ninety-year-old, pregnant wife? They were instructed to name their son Isaac. Translation? God laughed.