For the final three minutes of my last appearance at youth group I was laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe. It was just the leaders who were left–students went home 30 minutes earlier–and one of them offered a strained description of some quotidian thing that another one couldn’t let pass without mimicking incredulously. Chuckles spread, and then six adults were gasping for air and crying with laughter.
It was a fitting close to my time with this community because so much of our work with junior high and high school students has been marked by laughter, both amongst ourselves as well as with those students. I’ve actually come to see laughter as part of our work: permitting it, stimulating it, giving ourselves over to it, even at the expense of our agenda.
It will be very difficult for me to work with people if I am not able to laugh with them. I won’t actually be able to do my best work if goofing off is forbidden.
I took a very serious class on a very serious subject taught by a very serious man in my last semester of seminary, but I sat next to a couple of guys with whom I was constantly tempted to crack jokes. I spent the semester embarrassed about my immaturity. But in a private conversation with the professor on the last day, he told me how much he appreciated the “levity” that marked our antics as well as our work.
I work to laugh and I laugh to work.