When I initially volunteered for this open sermon slot, I had a specific topic that had been on my mind for the last several weeks. Forgetting that the TOTJO Clergy have themes for the month, I rushed headfirst before I realized that my topic is out of scope for the theme. I guess it’s good the subject of my topic is the need for laughter, so let’s just laugh off my failure to observe the theme this time around.
Ok. Now that my disclaimer is out of the way, let me give you a few evidences on why it’s physiologically good to laugh and then an anecdotal story of what happened to my father and why I believe it’s very important to have a sense of humor (beyond the fact that he had to deal with me growing up).
Our muscles stretch when we laugh, our heart rate goes up, more oxygen makes its way to our bodily tissues due to the heavy breathing that occurs with laughter. Oh, and we actually burn a few calories while we’re at it (http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/give-your-body-boost-with-laughter).
“Not bad, huh?”
“That’s very intriguing. Are there any other benefits to laughter?”
I’m glad you asked. Yes, there are.
Humor may increase disease-fighting antibodies in our blood, blood flows more easily when watching a comedic film over a dramatic one, and it can even lower blood sugar levels for people with diabetes (http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/give-your-body-boost-with-laughter?page=2). But, as with everything that’s great about science, there are naysayers that claim the evidence isn’t clear and the research is flawed on how the benefits of laughter really affect the mind and body. And that’s as it should be. Let the researchers study it some more, and we can withhold judgment until more results are released.
“So, let’s get on with this, LTK. I’m not reading the sermon because I’m interested in a science lesson.”
“Fair enough; let’s move along.”
My father was forced into retirement. He previously was an active individual but with retirement upon him, he spent many hours sitting at a laptop and typing. He did this for days. He did this on car and airplane rides to and from his children’s homes. But then his leg started swelling. It started to become very uncomfortable and even painful for him so he was admitted into a hospital.
The diagnosis from doctors was that he had severe blood clots in his legs. His condition while in the hospital gradually worsened as the medication he was given was causing other complications on his body and he quite literally was deteriorating. I was shocked when I saw my strong father, who had always been a solid, healthy man, look so frail, weak and thin with the loss of weight.
At one point in his extended hospital stay, the doctors told my mother that they did not expect him to last much longer and each day they came back to the hospital they wouldn’t be surprised if the nurses told tell them that he had passed during the night. With that kind of prognosis, my mother reached out to my father’s siblings and relayed the seriousness of the news and that now is the time to see him if they were planning on it.
All five of my father’s siblings, two of them from out of state, all made the trip together to visit my father in the hospital. While he was hooked up to machines and wearing a breathing mask, looking quite literally like half the man he used to be, the jokes started flying.
Several times my dad lost his breath and was coughing due to laughing so hard. Most of that was due to my uncle (my dad’s only brother) but the sisters got in on it, too. And it wasn’t just jokes about random funny things, but many of them were targeted at the bad shape my father was in. The family has always had a good sense of humor and even when the jokes are at our own expense, there is a strong, underlying love behind it all. We just like to laugh! Haha.
And then his spirit changed. Maybe it was the medication finally kicking in, maybe it was the laughter. Maybe it was just being with loved ones. But for some reason, he improved. His health came back, he started gaining weight again and not long after the visit with his siblings, he made his exit from the hospital. That was over 5 years ago.
So remember to laugh my friends! Enjoy the moment. Laugh at your mistakes; learn from them and move on. Don’t let criticism drag you down. “Be unreasonably happy” as the author of The Peaceful Warrior said.
It was a pleasure to provide this open sermon to you.
The Force is Always With Us.
(My father still likes to type on his laptop and travel to visit his children, but he’s a bit more active now. Check out this thread for the latest thing he’s been known to do: http://www.templeofthejediorder.org/forum/Jediism/111113-the-little-things-that-make-you-smile#198008 )