Giggling at somber times can enlighten you

Alexander giggled like a schoolboy as 40 of us met in a service Sunday and quietly tried to meditate for some 30 minutes.

Wait a minute. He is a school boy. Alexander was all of 14 years old yesterday while attending the Tibetan Buddhist Center of Philadelphia along with his mother. I was sitting next to the youth and about halfway through the gathering, a sound erupted from the other side of the room. It sound like someone adjusting a metal chair on the wooden floor, but to a young mind like that of Alexander, it also sounded like someone farting.

And then it happened. Alexander giggled. He tried his best not to laugh, but he couldn’t help himself. He couldn’t keep in the laughter no matter what he did to calm his mirth. He continued to let tiny sounds escape from his smiling face even after his mother had nudged him to be quiet. And then, she nudged him again.

god

I wanted to give him a bump on the arm too, but held back and found my mind drifting to a time when I was at a funeral serving as an altar boy at St. Ludwig’s Church for someone who had passed on. During the height of the Mass, I glanced at the other altar boy, a young fellow no more than 12, who had a funny kind of look on his face. It probably wasn’t that funny, but at the somber moment when everyone was deep in prayer with eyes closed and heads bowed, I started to giggle.

I couldn’t help myself. The boy – dressed in a black, cassock and white surplus like the one I wore — saw me and he began giggling too. It was contagious. No matter what we did to control ourselves, we couldn’t stop. I knew what I was doing was inappropriate as hell, but something from inside of me came out almost involuntarily.

Looking back, I see that it was harmless and almost natural for a kid trying his best to be holy only to find a bit of laughter in the most solemn of occasions. I don’t think that God or the Higher Self was offended by our actions, but might have gotten a little happiness from the episode as well.

Joy can be found in anything created by the Almighty. Why not see it in death or when meditating with a bunch of adults seeking enlightenment? Being child-like with a smile in your heart can be divine no matter how serious life might be.

14 comments on “Giggling at somber times can enlighten you

  1. I love this and indeed in the Book of Joy the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu talk about laughing. As a Laughter Yoga Leader, I believe in the power of laughter.

  2. contoveros says:

    I got this message from a member of the Buddhist Sangha I mingle with on Sunday mornings. She’s also a cat lover, just like me!

    ———-

    Nicole Perry
    January 16 at 6:06pm

    I love this! It reminds me of when I was 13 and attended temple with a Jewish friend of mine. We ALWAYS got to giggling, especially at some of the funny-sounding Hebrew words. God certainly didn’t strike us down dead with lightning. He was probably laughing along with us 🙂

  3. I have heard the most holy people say that laughter is a very serious part of a spiritual practice.

    I too have a solemnly funny story. When I was in my twenties attending the funeral of my then-husband’s 89 yr old grandma. I overheard, whilst we were all gazing at the coffin, a little great granddaughter say, “If Nona is in Heaven, then who’s the fake lady in the box?!” Cracked us all up & Ive never forgotten it. Getting the giggles can be so cathartic!

    • contoveros says:

      Could there be something called a “holy giggle?”
      I often wonder why we don’t see any paintings of Jesus smiling. I bet he laughed a lot and even joked a lot with the apostles, in particular, John, who seemed to be somber all the time.’
      I bet Buddha laughed and so did Abraham and Mohammed.

      I liked your story about the kid asking about the fake lady in the box. It is so authentic!

      • No doubt in my mind that they joked & laughed. (You brought up a good point. No laughing Jesus that I’ve seen. But laughing Buddhas aplenty). Desmond Tutu & the Dalai Lama spoke to this in an interview I heard. I imagine that Laughter is a sign of surrender, at least to ego. The best kind of letting go is when you can step back & laugh. Plus it’s primal. Good for our health. The Holy Giggle!!

        • contoveros says:

          A good friend of mine is reading a book on Joy with the pictures of the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu facing each other on the cover. I hope to send her a copy of this Blog post and refer directly to your comment above. I bet they have a lot to talk about in laughter!

  4. pkcapaldo says:

    This story made me giggle, too. I have also been in situations when an “inappropriate” giggle wants to bubble up. Maybe it’s a sign that our spirit rebels at taking ourselves too seriously sometimes.

    • contoveros says:

      “Taking ourselves too seriously!”

      That could be a major problem in the world today. I’m glad we can be like kids and avoid it sometimes!

  5. I believe it’s the book of Matthew that says, ” unless you become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. ” Alexander was in his present moment. An enlightening story, indeed.

    • contoveros says:

      I got a big smile as broad as the universe while reading your reply. Yes, it is simply living in the present moment that we can enter the kingdom . . .

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