laughter and the spirit

by Bernard De Koven on May 13, 2013

I like it best when laughter hits me “accidentally on purpose.” I like to teach silly games – games that make people laugh. I like the sound of that laughter, how it seems to take people by surprise even though the whole reason they are playing together is so that they can laugh like that together. I like funny fun – the fun of being funny together – that comes when people try to sit on each other’s laps, and don’t quite succeed. That laugh that releases us from the fear of failure because we do fail, and we don’t care, because we fall into laughter. Not laughter at. Laughter with. With the silliness of the game. With each other.

Sometimes, even when we play silly games, the laughter takes on a different tone, like, well, love. We’re playing a game like Hug Tag (where to be safe you have to be hugging someone) and amid all the screaming glee there’s a laugh that sounds like a celebration of the discovery that we are, in fact, safe in each other’s arms. Even when we’re playing hide and seek (my favorite variation being Sardines where when you find someone you hide with them) there’s a laugh like that, a laugh celebrating community.

Lately, I’ve been exploring what you might call “spiritual laughter,” but it is actually no more spiritual than any laughter that springs from joy and love and community. I play a game where the whole idea is for people to bless each other. Each blessing is supposed to be as heartfelt as a blessing can be, but, at the same time, even more of a blessing than the previous blessing. Someone says something like “may the fruits of your labor never spoil.” And then the next person says: “may the fruits of your labor not only never spoil, but may they be available at a grocery store near you.” And then the next: “And may they be non-GMO.” And people laugh. Meaningfully.


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