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.
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.