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Fun Along “the Doubters’ Path”

In exploring spiritual matters, people tend to become very serious. We might end up taking ourselves entirely too seriously. When that happens, no fun can be found on the spiritual journey.

Fun? Do you find that to be a discordant word in the midst of exploring spiritual matters? Most of us do. And yet play seems so healthy, doesn’t it? And laughter always seems to have a way of putting matters into a better perspective. Thus, two key qualities surface to nurture on “the Doubters’ Path.” They are the capacity for fun and a healthy, self-effacing sense of humor.

Was Jesus Christ really such a serious person? I hope not, but there is a tendency to portray him in that manner. Granted, being crucified was no walk in the park, but prior to that event, people did seem to be drawn to him and enjoy his company. Do you like hanging out with people who are always serious and gloomy? The writers of the Gospels seem to have missed capturing the lighthearted side of Jesus. How different the story would read if, in addition to “Jesus wept,” we also were to read, “Jesus laughed.”

Is there any sign of a lighthearted Jesus to be found? I think so. Recall his encounter with children. The way the story reads is that children approached him. If you know children at all, then you know that children tend to avoid adults who seem all serious and somber. They are drawn to adults who laugh and play. They see such adults as approachable.

How does fun fit into your journey along “the Doubters’ Path”? What do you consider to be fun? Are you able to play, especially with children? What makes you laugh? Who is your favorite comedian? Is it OK to laugh out loud in church?

These are important questions to address as part of the spiritual journey. Why? Because there is something special about the capacity to make others laugh, and there is something life-giving when we do laugh, especially when we laugh at ourselves. That need to laugh at ourselves extends to how we view the spiritual journey. As Teresa of Ávila once warned, “God save me from sober and serious saints!”

The issues confronted on a journey of questions and doubts are serious. But that seriousness in itself can be alluring. Viewing ourselves as weighed down with profound issues is ultimately an ego trip. Even in the desert, I am just one more lost fool trying to find my way. Laughter reminds me of that.

Excerpted from Turtle on the Fencepost: Finding Faith through Doubt by Richard B. Patterson, copyright 2012 (Liguori Publications, 822032).
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Published inReflections