Friday, June 10, 2011

Spirituality and Humor

"How many guru's does it take to change a light bulb?"

"We choose not to make a statement in favor of or against the need for a light bulb. However, should you encounter a light bulb in your journey, assuming that works for you, we invite you to write a poem or compose a modern dance about your personal experience with your light bulb and present it next month at our annual enlightened light bulb seminar where we will explore a number of light bulb transitions including incandescent, fluorescent, three-way, long-life and energie conserving light bulbs; all of which are equally valid paths to spiritual luminescence in a universe filled with darkness."

One day in Sunday School, a 10-year old boy was busy drawing a picture. 
"What are you drawing?" asked his Sunday School Teacher. 
"A picture of God," he replied. 
"That's nice, but you know, no one really knows what God looks like."   
"They will as soon as I get finished."

. . . . . . .
The more we understand about comedy the more we understand humanity. Nearly every human issue has been touched on by humor, and since death is universal, it's a topic that has the potential to elicit a global chuckle. What else can we do? Throughout history, humor has been our natural response to tragedy.  "I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying." Woody Allen said. (I'm with him on this one).

I read where Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross visited the Maidenek concentration camp in 1946. When she got to the children's barracks, it was heart-wrenching. There were toys and shoes strewn about, but there was something else, too. The walls were covered with hundreds of butterflies, scratched and etched with fingernails and pebbles.

That story struck a cord with me. The anguish of what those children and their families felt is nearly unbearable to imagine. Yet, in spite of the agony, these children naturally took to gaiety and amusement. The idea that a human mind can still find beauty in the most ghastly, terrifying experience is a clear statement about our universal need for enjoyment. It's a human response to look to levity when the world gets heavy. While it sometimes takes courage to laugh, in the face of great challenges, what else do we have? Just as these children etched butterflies in the walls as a type of grief-relief remedy, so too can a joke take away the tears, leaving in their place a smile and even a hearty laugh.

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