I made it through another sweet-sour time,
and here I am,
and in need of… of what?
Gosh, I resonate with those words, and I wonder if you do too? How often is it that we have so much going on, so much that demands our attention; and when the invitation to rest comes, we are unsure how to do it? This happens to me often. I’m coming off a busy season now and I’m angsty, irritable, physically just tired… It’s time for a pause. But now I find myself faced with the oh-so-familiar question: “How do I do that?”
Then comes the next line of the poem:
“A chuckle, maybe,
a revolution begun with a belly laugh,
a Bronx cheer in the face of the onslaughts
of disaster and death itself.
Personally, I don’t find humor all that “restful,” so this next stanza caught me by surprise and annoyed me a little bit, actually. To allow humor, or levity into a situation — to me, anyway — is to admit a lack of control or gravitas in the moment. It’s to make light of the struggle I experience and joke about my hurt. Who wants that! And I continued to feel that way, anxious, nervous, and frustrated as I got on the plane to fly home to see Mom and Dad.
Now, you need a little context here: I’ve been flying my entire life. So much so, I had silver status on Delta when I six. But, despite that fact — how funny is this — I hate turbulence. It gets to me pretty badly if I’m being honest. But it was in that moment, that context that I had a really disarming God sighting.
So there I was, sitting in my aisle seat, dreading takeoff — because we all know that takeoff means turbulence. And as the engines roared to life and we went speeding down the jetway, God did something…funny! The song playing through my headphones was “A Whole New World” from Aladdin sung by Sandi Patty and David Phelps. A song about flying, tumbling, and falling! I had to work so hard to keep from laughing out loud. Here was a song about the very thing that was making me nervous. Then when that song ended, what should come on next but “I Will Survive” by Cynthia Clawson. Again, same thing; I had to really suppress the giggles! Could God have been any clearer? I was going to fly and I was going to survive.
Now, granted, the whole thing is a little silly, and I may be reading too much into the songs; but… in that moment I experienced God. I was so aware of God’s smile towards me, showing me he had seen me, and inviting me to relax and rest; and he did it by making me laugh!
Such is my need;
and this is my wonder:
Are you really as humorless,
as grimly serious
as I have made you out to be?
Or do aardvarks and monkeys,
bullfrogs and platypuses,
puppies and porpoises,
and people, perhaps,
reveal a comic side of your grace,
the playful side of your love?
Tickle me into giggling down
the wailing walls
of my endless grievances.
and trip up my waddling pomposities…
over my petty preoccupation with success and failure,
through all the hurt and adversity
until my laughter lures me deep
beneath the terrors without names,
beneath the questions without answers,
beneath the pain without relief…
to the love in me unused…
to the courage unspent…
to the beauty unexpressed.
I think the thing I found so sweet about the experience is that God made a way for me to experience the rest he promised to give me. I didn’t have to do anything other than show up. He saw me. He saw my inability to let go of my “endless grievances and waddling pomposities,” and he did something, unexpected, to draw me beyond my own limitations. He made me laugh! Then I cried tears of joy for the lightness that came afterwards.
 Ted Loder, Guerrillas of Grace : Prayers for the Battle, 20th anniversary ed. (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Books, 2005), Loc.422.
 Loder, Guerrillas of Grace : Prayers for the Battle, Loc.422.
 Loder, Guerrillas of Grace : Prayers for the Battle, Loc.424-27.