I recently looked up stories on the Good News Network. I recommend the site. In one story, folks in Scotland were asked by a company to come up with names for their inventory of 50 snowplows. The results, I believe, are quite funny. Here is a sample of names the public submitted for the names for snowplows.
“Snowcially Distanced. Sleetwood Mac. Spready Mercury. Sled Zeppelin. Spreadie Van Halen. Salt Disney. Mary Queen of Salt. License to Chill.” And there were more of course. Humorous? I think so. Silly? Perhaps. But this story found on the Good News Network reminds us of some things we need to keep in mind during these challenging times.
In the midst of bad news, sometimes really bad news, there is good news to be found. Good news that is in fact far more substantive than naming snowplows.
It is essential as followers of Jesus that we never deny, minimize, or rationalize the real pain of others, or in fact the pain we are experiencing ourselves. But that said, when things are dark, when we notice and attend to good news, it reminds us that our faith journey is about seeing what is good in the midst of what is bad, that good overcomes bad, and that ultimately light supersedes any darkness.
Said another way, although there is much bad news every moment, when we also pay attention to what is good and right and reflective of how things should be, it helps us to keep perspective, opens our minds up to greater levels of creativity, and enhanced problem solving.
The story about naming snowplows reminds me of something else, however. That is the importance of humor and laughter. Just as I was entering UCLA, Professor Norman Cousins was approaching the end of his career and life. Over the years he was a journalist, author, and teacher. He believed our emotions affect not only who we are, but the course of our illnesses as well. Over time of course, this has been demonstrated to be clearly true through research.
Norman Cousins also came to understand that laughter is healing, and in fact can serve as a pain reducer. He learned this through his own personal experiences. Here are some things he said about laughter, even during the course of his own physical pain.
“Laughter is a pathway to tap positive emotions. Hearty laughter is a good way to jog without even going outside. Utilize laughter to create a mood in which other positive emotions can be put to work for yourself and those around you.” He believed humor and laughter are gifts to be used for the betterment of others.
This last year has been no laughing matter. For sure, it has been one of the darkest times in our nation’s history. A time in which pain and agony have been politicized for self-serving purposes. A time of great loss across many dimensions. A time in which many norms have been upended.
Yet, in the midst of it all, the story of Jesus reminds us that light prevails in the end. That something good is how the story will end. That what is bad does not have the final say. And as I and others have said many times before, we are indeed Easter people living a Good Friday world.
Good news, laughter, and humor, I believe, are God given avenues we have available to help us keep such things in mind when things are awry. The purpose of such gifts again is never about denial or minimizing or not acting to correct what is wrong, in any way shape or form. But such gifts clearly can help to remind us who is in charge when it is all said and done and lead us to smile when someone around us needs it the most.