by Father Mark Goldasich
Ready? OK! Gimme a C . . . R . . . A . . . B . . . another B . . . Y!
What’s that spell? Father Mark! What? Faaaa-theeer Maaaaaaark! Woo!
Over the past few weeks, that’s the cheer The Leaven staff has probably had rolling around in their minds. That they didn’t do it out loud (at least to my knowledge) is a tribute to their restraint and thick skins.
One of the triggers for my crabbiness is not eating. Since that’s not been the case, it’s got to be another major trigger: I’ve lost perspective and, consequently, my sense of humor.
It’s been especially busy at the parish with five funerals, a wedding and confirmation in addition to all of the usual happenings. When I catch myself coming and going, stress takes the upper hand and patience takes a vacation.
The best way to restore my equilibrium is through humor. As the holiday season creeps up on us, maybe we could all use a good laugh or two to get us prepared.
Laughter really is therapeutic, according to the Mayo Clinic. Here are some of its benefits:
- Laughter increases your oxygen intake, stimulating organs and muscles.
- It releases endorphins, making you feel happier.
- Laughing can help build your immune system by releasing stress-fighting neuropeptides.
- It stimulates circulation, easing tension in the muscles.
With these benefits in mind, and just in time for Thanksgiving next week, let me prescribe these stories:
- A slew of kids lined up in a Catholic elementary school for lunch. At the front end of a table was a large pile of apples. The principal wrote a note and posted it on the apple tray: “Please take only ONE. Remember: God is watching.”
At the back end of the table was a huge pile of chocolate chip cookies. There, one of the kids secretly scrawled this note: “Grab all you want! God’s watching the apples!”
- The second story finds an atheist walking through the woods, blissfully admiring all of the beauty of the trees, rivers and wildlife.
Suddenly, he hears a rustling behind him. He spins around to see a seven-foot grizzly bear charging toward him. He runs as fast as he can up a path. Looking over his shoulder, though, he sees the bear closing in on him.
He continues to run, but the bear gains more ground. As the guy tries an evasive maneuver, he trips and falls on the ground. Before he can pick himself up, the bear is right on top of him. One paw reaches for the man, while the other is ready to claw him.
“Oh, my God!” the atheist cries.
Time stops. The bear freezes. The whole forest goes silent.
Out of the sky comes a bright light and a voice booms, “You deny my existence, teach others that I don’t exist and even credit creation to a cosmic accident. Do you expect me to help you out of this predicament? Have you become a believer?”
The atheist, with head bowed, replies, “It would be hypocritical of me to suddenly ask you to treat me as a believer. But perhaps you could make the bear a Christian?”
“Very well,” says the voice. The light goes out; the sounds of the forest return.
Instantly, the bear drops to its knees, presses his paws together and prays: “Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts . . .”
A father was teaching his son to admire the wonders of nature. “Look, son,” he said, “isn’t that sunset a beautiful picture that God has painted?”
“It sure is, Dad,” replied the kid enthusiastically, “especially since God had to paint it with his left hand.”
The father was baffled. “What do you mean?” he asked. “Why his left hand?”
“Well,” answered the boy, “my religious ed teacher told us last Sunday that Jesus was sitting on God’s right hand!”
I can hear your groaning at this last one . . . and that’s really making me laugh!