by Howard Hain
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
Sobbing is quite an amazing act. When someone really let’s go. The back shakes, the stomach heaves, giant tears rain down. The sound is unlike any other. The cry of the truly poor. The wailing. The bursting forth of what no longer can remain contained. The release. The death. The life.
“With a loud cry Jesus died.”
God…something to truly behold.
The man. The woman. Rachel refusing to be consoled.
And then it stops. Like a torrential downpour that just can’t last that long. The hard, fast, terrible roar of a summer thunderstorm. It comes and goes. The floods flash, then creation smiles once more—it almost winks, as if nothing ever happened at all. Brother Sun reappears. The black clouds scurry into the distance. Streams of light, sunbeams, tunnel through whitewashed clouds. Sister Moon prepares a crystal clear night.
“And Jesus wept.”
I imagine that Jesus also laughed.
Perhaps as a child He even giggled.
Yes, I like to think of Jesus as a small boy. A funny, kind, sweet, happy child. Yes, I imagine He liked to laugh. Yes, I can see that. Imagine it, right? Little Jesus and Mary laughing, Joseph laughing too—maybe even lovingly shaking his head a little as he walks past the two of them on his way back to the shop—enjoying the sight of his bride and boy bathing the monotony of domestic life in tender moments of lightness such as these.
Yes, I imagine that they even had those small humorous encounters that only the inner members of an intimate, tightly-knit family can engage. Those little looks and quiet soundless chuckles that release the tension of living in too-close quarters, among people you love so much that the temptation arises of becoming annoyed at even their genuine goodness.
Perhaps though I am biased. For some of my fondest memories as a child are of being together in the same room, the six of us: four boys, and Mom and Dad. And what was best of all was the laughing, especially the uncontrolled laughter of children engaged in outright silliness, the kind that Mom and Dad—even though they we’re saying “come on, stop it now”—they themselves couldn’t help cracking smiles. Sometimes those fits of laughter were self-induced or at least group-induced, via my elder brothers tickling us nearly to death.
For there is a type of laughter that can only be laughed by a child. And as I am sure most of us can recall, the second those tickling sessions began we’d beg for mercy for it to end. And the second it was over we would ask for more.
They are quite similar. In fact, they sometimes occur simultaneously. And often when they continue past a certain point, the person begins to cough. I guess, physiologically, it’s caused by some kind of gasping for air that both prolonged sobbing and deep laughter call for, but it is a whole lot more.
It is a purging, a clearing out. As if the crying and laughing chip loose and shake free those emotional “buildups” lodged in our souls, plastered to the inner walls of our spirits.
And whether we are brought to our knees by bouts of bitter wailing or fits of uncontrolled laughter, or both, something remains after they go, like the pavement after those quick, fierce summer storms on brutally hot days. For whether those storms rain on our parades or provide our flowers with a desperately needed drink, it’s always a beautifully peaceful sight to see the hot ground, sidewalks, and driveways slightly smoking—a haze of mist signaling that a deeply hidden storm, a raging fire deep below, has met its match.
We dry off, and begin again.