I have a painted board in my office. It’s probably a Pinterest kind of thing, I’m guessing, and it’s my humble level of decorating, if there’s any free space – maybe that’s why it’s sitting on a window sill. It says: “Live Well, Laugh Often, Love Much”. And it has some kind of vine-y green leaves and brown branches and little red dots that I suppose are fruit between the phrases and at the beginning and end. I probably would have liked it even if it didn’t have the vines and leaves and fruits. And maybe if it was even block letters on a piece of cardboard handwritten with a magic marker. I simply like what it says, and I like that it says it so succinctly – not my own best gift.
Some days when I’m sitting and thinking, I glance over and one of the phrases catches me. Like to live well – what does that mean? Does it depend on the day? To live well. To offer our best selves in relationship with both friends and acquaintances and maybe strangers who could become friends? To embrace each day as a gift and intentionally decide how to share it generously with those around us? To accept that there will be struggle and hardship and heartache, and sometimes those are the very things that teach us what living well means? That it doesn’t mean that we only respond with generosity when life is fair, but that we respond with generous hearts and spirits most particularly when life isn’t fair. Maybe it means that on those days when we do not respond well, those days that we aren’t positive thinkers, those days that we are not generous with anyone, we are still loved and valued and offered an invitation for healing and trust and coming back and/or a moving forward into other days and other spirits. Live well. Probably a large part of why we are here inhabiting a span of time and space. If we live well, maybe the world lives better for us being here?
Depending on who’s been in or who’s coming in or what I may have spilled down my front at lunch, the phrase Laugh Often takes the priority in my vision. Do we laugh often? Some things don’t seem quite as easily funny in these complex times. We focus on polarization, we are bombarded with hateful rhetoric, and we are witness to so much destructive action because of race or class or politics or lifestyle or just about anything we humans use to separate ourselves from one another. I have a bit of a need for popsicles on an ongoing basis. I love them. I love that they make my tongue and lips either bright red or deep purple or garishly orange. I love that they’re cold and sticky and have differing levels of crunch factor depending on how long you take to eat them and the melting quotient. AND, I love that they have horrible jokes printed on the stick. So…
Don’t spell part backward… it’s a trap.
How did I escape Iraq? Iran.
What do you call Watson when Holmes isn’t around? Holmesless.
Okay, last one, Why don’t cannibals eat clowns? They taste funny!
I know, right? That’s horrible!! Sort of, but maybe it’s sort of funny a little bit too?! I have a great friend who texts me puns and jokes and wordplays each day during Lent, this is one of my favorites: “Mahatma Ghandi walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail, and with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath. This made him (oh man, this is so bad, it’s good)… A SUPER-CALLOUSED FRAGILE MYSTIC HEXED BY HALITOSIS!!!”
When was the last time you doubled over and belly laughed yourself silly? Tears streaming down your face, snorts escaping from your nose, stomping your feet because you just can’t stand it? Maybe it’s not popsicle stick jokes, maybe not wordplays, maybe it’s those moments that happen unexpectedly that catch you off guard and simply send you over the edge. People who study stuff tell us that laughter releases good things inside us that we need to stay healthy. If we laugh often, maybe the world begins to laugh with us? I think that’s a derivative idea from some song, but I think it has some merit.
Love Much. Hmmmm. What about when you feel rejected? What about when bad things happen and our hearts break? What about when love doesn’t have the instant power of a weapon to change the hearts and minds of those bent on destruction? What about when people are just wrong – wrong-headed, wrong-decisioned, wrong-acting, wrong-spoken, wrong-living, wrong-politicked, wrong- religious systemed, wrong skin-toned, wrong beliefed, wrong languaged, JUST PLAIN WRONG? What’s love got to do with that? *snort* I just can’t help myself.
Maybe love has everything to do with all of that and more. Maybe the kind of love we God-people espouse is supposed to be exactly for all the moments of human brokenness and meanness and yes, even wrongness – both others and most particularly our own! Maybe when all else fails, we love much. Or maybe before all else fails, we love much. Or maybe whether all else fails or doesn’t fail, we love much! Maybe we just love much and call it good.
So today let’s Live Well, Laugh Often, Love Much and see what happens. Maybe vine-y leaves and brown branches and red fruits show up to decorate our lives. Maybe more generous hearts laugh more easily at simple jokes and unexpected happenings, and maybe, just maybe, love has everything to do with everything and finally maybe that’s enough.
Okay, one more: I went to the bank the other day and a lady asked me to check her balance, so I pushed her over.
Just one more: Why did Cinderella get kicked off the team? Because she kept running away from the ball!
Okay just one more: Intelligence is like underwear, it’s important that you have it, but not necessary that you show it off.
Okay okay seriously, just one more: The Sesame Street puzzle I bought said 3-5 years, but I finished it in 18 months! BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!