Thursday, June 4, 2009

Leaving a sparkle in her eyes


In a time when the social and economic downslope globally and locally tends to make many people feel depressed and insecure, how good it is to have people around us with a sense of realism and good humour; people who keep smiling and laughing, reminding us constantly that, although at times a tough and serious business, life is not all about toil and suffering. It also contains some lighter, entertaining and enjoyable moments.

Too much lightheartedness or silliness can of course be misplaced and irritating, especially when it trivializes the gravity or urgency of a situation. One can also hide one’s insecurities and hurt behind a joke. However, a good dose of healthy humour at the right time - one which rightfully acknowledges our regular concerns, but then makes them relative by putting them into a broader perspective - can also relieve the tension, thereby creating a sense of relief, hope and even a good laugh.

I have a friend whose mere presence enables a sense of goodwill and laughter. I know that he also has his vulnerable moments, but you rarely meet him without a mischievous smile. He is always ready to entertain one with his most recent joke or comical anecdote. It is possible that such a way of always highlighting the bright and funny side of life can be too much for some people. For me however, this rare ability to relieve others from the weightiness of life by introducing humour, has always been a real tonic, especially in times of turmoil and pressure.

No wonder that the nurse in the frail care division, where he regularly used to visit his endearing grandmother, held him in such high esteem. In her words: “Her illness had made the grandmother quiet and glum, but after a visit from him, she always had a sparkle in her eyes. It was wonderful to see. Like sunlight pouring into a dark room, his presence, honest concern and particularly his sense of humour, always seemed to transform her dark mood in an instant. She seemed to wake up to life again”.

Is this not a unique feature of the Christian testimony in a time like ours - to make people feel happy and positive, to leave a sparkle in their eyes despite so many things that threaten to destroy our ability to be joyful. In fact it remains a terrible accusation against our faith when we confess the Lordship of Christ and yet continue to live and speak as if the darkness prevails…as if there is no space for faith and humour.

Carel AnthonisseN

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