My Sisters and Brothers, it’s been way too long since I’ve written… but life has been super hectic lately. So please forgive me for being so silent. Silent in words, but present in thought!
I’m on night shift this week, so I’ve had practically no sleep. My upstairs neighbour has been renovating his flat, the gardeners have been out with chainsaws cutting back the trees, and sleep has been as elusive as the legendary Loch Ness Monster. But I managed to grab an hour or so here and there… and had the craziest dream! I dreamt that the Pope and the Dalai Lama came to visit me at work!
In the dream, there was so much chemistry between them. They kept on bumping into each other, and roaring with laughter each time! The Dalai Lama was calling Pope Francis “Mr Donkey Head”, and the Pope replied, “Si! Si! I am the donkey of Lord Jesus! The donkey He rode into Jerusalem on!” He patted the Dalai Lama on his bald head and told him that good grass doesn’t grow on bad soil, and the Dalai Lama roared with laughter, and poked the Pope in the ribs!
In the dream, I kept on running after them and telling them to act more holy, because people were staring at them. But they carried on laughing and playing the fool. Finally, the Dalai Lama turned to me and said. “We are being holy! Jesus laughed, and so did Han Shan and Shih Te!”
(For those who aren’t familiar, Han Shan and Shih Te were two famous Buddhist monks who are best remembered for always laughing. They would travel round the country writing poetry on rocks and trees and monastery walls. But they were always laughing! Always!)
I wish this wasn’t just a dream. I’ve seen Pope Francis twice, and both times he has inspired me more than I could have imagined. But I have never met him personally. Nor the Dalai Lama. But I would love to have a proper conversation with both men! And I would love to see them playing the fool and laughing like they did in my dream!
But it’s also got me thinking. Man has turned religion into something stale and boring… and very austere. It’s become something solemn and serious and ritualistic. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with ritual. I personally love it – incense, candles, chanting. But religion isn’t meant to be something we do. It’s something we live. It’s about falling madly and passionately in love with the God who has fallen madly and passionately in love with us!
If we realise that, we will see that there’s nothing wrong with laughing, or being a bit crazy! Yes, I believe Jesus laughed! I believe He laughed a lot! Children loved Him… and children love those who laugh, and whose eyes sparkle! They love the slightly mad ones who, like the Pope and Dalai Lama in my dream, roar with laughter, and poke each other, and joke with one another!
So yes, I believe Jesus laughed! And I believe we need to as well! Let us follow the example of the mystics, who discovered a God of Love, of Laughter, of Joy and Mercy and Peace!
May the God of all Joy bless you and keep you! Amen.