The right laughter

Published 1:00 pm Sunday, May 26, 2024

Laughter — one definition is “a manifestation of mirth.” That’s the word description, but it’s a fascinating “manifestation” to me. In fact, I have mulled over this “mood of merriment” that can bring happy tears and resonate through few or masses.

It’s often related to fun and enjoyment, and it has the innate ability to display itself in times and places that aren’t always acceptable. As a child sitting with siblings in church, laughter has wiggled its way into our thoughts that were brought on by a wide variety of childhood happenings. Somehow laughter could never differentiate between the appropriate and inappropriate time to laugh in church. 

I can remember trying to muffle the laughter that could have spun out a rolling, belly laugh, but I knew better and so did my siblings. The preacher’s blunder with a word or a missed key in a musical presentation could engage my “tickle box” at the speed of sound, but I soon learned that laughter wasn’t appropriate on such occasions. Even when I was able to muffle audible sounds, I couldn’t always stop the gyrations that laughter initiated in my sitting position. 

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Somehow I was always seated close enough to Mother for her to detect any irreverence that I unintentionally displayed. It only took a point from her finger or that look when she got my attention to squelch the laughter that was brewing in my adolescent brain.

The Bible has numerous verses mentioning laughter. Sarah was reprimanded for laughing when she overheard the prophetic word that she would have a child in her very old age. It even prompted her to lie. That was the inappropriate mode of laughter. Around a year later, Sarah was laughing again — a most appropriate time when she joyfully said, “God has made me laugh, and everyone who hears will laugh with me.”

Another Biblical reference is from the Proverbs 31 Wonder Woman — “She can laugh at the time to come.” Also, a Proverbs 17 verse sites a joyful, cheerful heart as good medicine.

Many would consider my present analysis of laughter still rooted in past generations, but I’ll agree to that. In this unrestrained and volatile time, we have lost the “appropriate” use of laughter. Reverence and respect seem to have disappeared from mankind’s behavior. We’ve replaced an amazing “medicine” that’s equipped to produce happiness with a revised version that degrades and dishonors.

Letters to Camille Anding may be sent to P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven, MS 39602.