Pairing Laughter and Love
A Lenten Reflection
by Marnie Klassen, Communications and Admin Assistant, A Rocha MB
March 2, 2022
Lent – (Pronunciation /lɛnt/ ) – NOUN
- (in the Christian Church) the period preceding Easter, which is devoted to fasting, abstinence, and penitence in commemoration of Christ’s fasting in the wilderness.
“Lent is … about mortality. It is a reminder of death. In church that practice the imposition of ashes, where the priest or pastor makes the sign of the cross on the forehead during Ash Wednesday, he [sic.] may say, “You are dust and to dust you shall return.” It is a stark reminder that life is running out.”
– David Epps, thecitizen.com
Welcome! Welcome here. Welcome to this season of mortality, death, finitude, endings. Wow, sounds fun, right?
If you’re picking up on the sarcasm there, you’re probably thinking, no Marnie, it does not – it sounds like a season of grief and glumness, like we need more of that.
And fair enough! We usually think of lent as a season just like that – you’re supposed to be sad during lent! No way is this a season of JOY.
I am convinced, however, that laughter and love (two primary ingredients in joy) help us to more honestly and more fully engage the deaths with which we are surrounded.
There’s a lot of death going around these days; more than usual, it seems. Perhaps you saw that the most recent IPCC report came out this week – as expected, things look bleak. Species we love are dying. Places we love are being desecrated and poisoned. And if you’ve been around A Rocha for a while, you’ll have heard that things near our beloved Brooksdale centre in Surrey aren’t looking so hot either – death + love = grief, and man alive are we grieving.
Lent is also a season during which we remember Jesus’ journey to the cross, his temptation, and ultimately, his death. It’s hard for me not to think of the deaths of people I have loved when I recall Jesus’ death – it leaves me wondering “how to make sense of a world where they aren’t.” After 2 years of losses, it’s tough to sit still in a season of grief, tough to let Jesus show up in our lives here.
I know it may seem counterintuitive, but I truly believe that laughter is going to help us to name and honour these deaths well.
I was moved by this recent clip from Stephen Colbert:
“Sadness is like a little emotional death, but not defeat if you can find a way to laugh about it because that laughter keeps you from having fear of it, and fear keeps you from turning to evil devices to save you from the sadness.”
Laughter helps us to avoid being sucked into or owned by our sadness – it helps us to hold the sadness as sadness rather than as fear.
We must pair our laughter with love – love is the additive to loss which propels us forward, allows us to grieve well, and gives us sure footing from which to continue in deeper love.
“Nothing happens alone,” John Green says, “even when we feel alone, we never are.” How true this is! We accompany one another, and we are accompanied by God.
As we enter this season of Lent, as we grieve the losses in our created world (and in our personal lives), we walk accompanied, always. We can let Jesus show up during Lent, laughing, loving, grieving alongside us. And let us walk with laughter on our lips and love in our hearts! For it is with laughter and love that we can name our mortality, and simultaneously name the preciousness of this one wild life.