Meister Eckhart, a fourteenth century Dominican friar, theologian and mystic, got himself in hot water with the Church when he wrote:
“When God laughs at the soul and the soul laughs back at God, the persons of the Trinity are begotten. When the Father laughs at the Son and the Son laughs back at the Father, that laughter gives pleasure, that pleasure gives joy, that joy gives love, and that love is the Holy Spirit.”
It is no wonder the Church might have had a problem here. God’s Spirit comes to us through laughter? Can this be right - laughter, pleasure, joy and love are the means we are to know God? But aren’t these the things we crave, for ourselves? Waking up to greet our beloved; looking upon our child and being unable to do anything other than smile in wonderment; being out in nature, overwhelmed in awe of its beauty and power. These are things we know. Meister Eckhart would have us believe and embrace that it is in the ordinary everyday moments of our lives that divinity resides, asking you and I to just look up from our busy lives in time to notice what God looks like.
Emily Dickinson got it, writing, “That it will never come again is what makes life sweet. Dwell in possibility. Find ecstasy in life; the mere sense of living is joy enough.”
Finding ecstasy in life is not some sentimental exercise denying what is difficult or adopting saccharine notions of reality. We are living in real peril at the moment, but when Ms. Dickinson writes “that it will never come again” she is demanding we honor even this moment for the reality of all that it holds. Right now, in the midst of our life, laughter can break through, the sheer pleasure of it brings joy, in this joy we feel and touch and taste love, and when that happens we have encountered what God has in mind for us.
”… that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.”
Gospel of John
These words of Jesus have always seemed enigmatic to me, suggesting our lives are meant for joy. Who would have thought? But since this is what he said, we best not take our joy lightly nor for granted, but recognize it for what it truly is – a window onto the what and the why of us. Joy is a gift of grace, as we savor that joy we become a conduit for love, of the giver, of ourself, and of the moment. How often have we felt this love as we laughed with an other?
Sharing a laugh with anyone is an act of intimacy, we become bonded to that other or others in the moment. That is what we want, the mutuality in the joy of that moment is what we are meant to have in every moment. That our joy can be complete is nothing more than a statement of purpose. ‘I want to know you, I want to have a good laugh with you, I want to have a bond with you because when that happens we fulfil our human destiny and have come to each other’s rescue.’
Intimacy, the origin of the word means ‘to make known,’ what could better describe the sequence of events when you and I have a laugh together. Pleasure? Joy? Love? God’s Spirit? You and I creating an unbreakable bond? Our rascally Dominican may just be on to something.