My mother and I walked into the stone church, dimly lit for the Taizé service. Fifteen people sat scattered in the pews around us, softly singing simple chants. After the opening songs, the priest welcomed everyone. He encouraged us to sit wherever we would like (the song booklet said we could sit on the floor if we so desired). He told us that the woman who stood in the front right corner of the church was available for anyone who would like healing. A few minutes later, someone went over to her, and after that she was never without someone to help.
The songs were interspersed with readings. The second was from Isaiah. “God doesn’t come and go. God laughs,” said the priest.
Did he just say God laughs? Is that really in the Bible?
I continued listening, and soon realized he said “God lasts” not “God laughs.” But it got me thinking back to the first time I learned God had a sense of humor.
In my early 20s I came across Neale Donald Walsch’s Conversations with God. Neale was a bit frustrated with life, to say the least. So he wrote a letter of complaint to God. He questioned why things were the way they were. After writing questions, he was quite surprised to find himself writing the answers as well. God was talking to him, and he wrote it down.
At first I thought the whole concept kind of odd. Really? This guy heard God? But I was intrigued, so I bought the book. And I’ll freely admit the first and most important lesson I learned in reading it was this: God has a sense of humor.
These days I think, “Well, of course he does! How could anyone exist without a sense of humor?” There are certainly some who try, but God?
Back then, this was a very new concept to me. The nuns at Saint Peter’s Elementary School never talked about God laughing. God was serious business, to be discussed in reverent and hushed tones. But I remember the picture in one of the classrooms of Jesus with a big smile on his face surrounded by kids. How could a man not laugh in the presence of children?
As I read Conversations with God, I found myself laughing out loud to the witty responses God gave to some of Neale’s questions. I was nodding my head in recognition when God would repeat a lesson he’d already said once before, explaining that we humans often don’t listen to him the first time — or the fifth time for that matter.
Not long after that I started talking to God myself. “So this whole what-to-do-with-my-life question. Can you just give me the answer already? I’m kind of sick of trying to figure it out for myself.”
“Soon enough,” he would tell me, with a slight smile on his face I was sure.
“Gee. Thanks.” I would say, attempting to take it all in stride.
“Don’t take yourself so seriously. Enjoy life a little.” And that stopped me. He was right. I was stressing entirely too much over a question it takes many people their whole lifetime to answer. I was only 25. I didn’t need to have it all figured out.
Eleven years later, I still sometimes (okay, more often than I’d like to admit) take myself entirely too seriously. I don’t have it “all figured out” and God still has to remind me to enjoy life. Thankfully, God is patient. And the lessons are worth being reminded of over and over again.
What lesson do you find you need to be reminded of over and over again?