Monday, November 26, 2007

Pain and laughter

Out of curiosity, I recently counted the number of cheerful news items in the top seven headlines this evening. There was one. There were images galore of men, women and children caught in the midst of terrible and undeserved suffering…but then one story led to another.

There are days when one is led to wonder what is happening to the world. Is it all collapsing into mayhem?

…and then, without intending it, the newsreader injected her own little bit of normality into the scene as she moved her head and shoulders. The studio lighting revealed that she had probably ironed her own jacket and hadn’t done the best job of it. The seams were, somehow, irregularly shiny, possibly the result of an iron that had been too hot for the material.

It is very easy to be media-led into believing that the world is ruled by crime and violence. War is just around the corner. Our earth is on the verge of devastation, to be obliterated by ourselves in the course of our daily lives. Even cows chewing the cud in their fields are blamed for their supposedly terrible contribution to global warming.

During the summer I watched a wonderful television programme that followed the growth and development of twins, triplets and quads in their mother’s womb. I don’t know how the images were obtained: perhaps there was a microchip inserted into the lining of the uterus. I don’t know. However, one beautiful scene showed the unborn twins moving closer to each other and even though it had to have been just a question of position and not of intent, it looked as though one twin was kissing the other through the membranes that enclosed them both.

Even from before we are born, we are made for love and for togetherness. We are not created for death, tragedy and destruction. For most of us, life is composed of the mundane details of washing and ironing and of controlling the temperature of the iron with which we make our clothes look presentable. Most of us are not faced with the horrors that accost us through the media.

A recent radio programme described a book written by, I think, an economist. It was filled with so much doom and gloom as he looked at the world’s future that he couldn’t stand it and threw himself from the 30th floor of a skyscraper.

There are tragedies. There are nightmares. People are living through indescribable horrors and deserve our sympathy, prayers and support. But there is also goodness, beauty, love, generosity, compassion, understanding, laughter and all the other lovely things that make life worthwhile. Let us not lose sight of them.

God is a God of laughter as well as a God of love. He has to be. If God could not laugh, neither could we. His is a special laughter. It is the joy of a small child, the giggle of a shared secret, the deep belly laugh of a good joke, the smile of contentment and satisfaction, the grin of inspiration after a struggle, the delighted yell of a pleasant surprise or of an encounter with a long-absent loved one, the serenity of a good night’s sleep.

As we pray for all those who are facing any difficulties, we also pray that they will know laughter.

God bless,
Sr. Janet