And Now, The Fish Slapping Dance

Giggles

Gentle Reader,

My house is a disaster. Really. We’re down to the last room in the Grand Epic of Replacing the Floor, which means everything in my bedroom has been shoved into the guest room and everything in the guest room has been shoved into what passes for an office (that nobody ever uses) and there is detritus everywhere. The dogs can’t figure out what’s happening to their environment; in protest of the disruption, they knock over bathroom wastebaskets and generally behave badly.

I don’t know whether to laugh, cry or decamp to the nearest cheap motel.

Attempting to see the humor seems the best choice.

Did you know that Christians aren’t supposed to have a sense of humor, though? I didn’t until recently. Again, belatedly I learn that I have been doing my life all wrong. Must have lost the instruction manual. Apparently we are supposed to be deeply serious people, always and ever concerned with ruining everybody’s good time.

How sad.

Jesus went to parties, you know. As in, He was invited to parties all the time and saw no need to avoid them. Heaven certainly sounds like it’s going to be a gigantic, forever-long party, full of light, laughter and good food. For what is being in the presence of God if not happiness? If not constant smiling?

Is life serious? Of course it is. It’s also absurd. A friend texted me a couple of hours ago, relaying a story she’d seen on the news of a man who broke into a house and began doing laundry. Not his laundry. The laundry that belongs to the people whose house he broke into. Yes, theft is a sin, but that’s funny. What sort of burglar thinks, “You know, I’ll just do some washing up for these fine folks that I’m robbing?”

There are two sides to my personality; one is very serious, dark and afraid, the other ever-amused and struggling to hold back giggles at inappropriate moments. This particular blend is what it is. At nearly 34, I’ve about given up on attempting to reconcile how I can, at the same time, be both numbingly anxious and laughing so hard tears spring to my eyes. That is, I suppose, humanity.

I believe in learning, study, contemplation. I also believe in a good pie to the face. I don’t think God minds a good joke. In fact, I think He laughs. Give yourself permission to do the same. Allow yourself to see the funny, the farcical. Perhaps, in so doing, the proverbial silver lining is found.

William Makepeace Thackeray (one of the best names ever) wrote in his novel Vanity Fair,

The world is a looking-glass, and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face. Frown at it, and it will in turn look sourly upon you; laugh at it and with it, and it is a jolly kind companion.

When I frown at the world, when I dwell on all that makes me sad and scared, I find more things to be sad and scared about. When I do the work of looking up and smiling (for it is work, as all choices are), I find more things to smile about. That’s not pop psychology or self-help babble, nor is that a substitute for medication or therapy, if needed. (Real talk: I am beginning to become annoyed at having to place this disclaimer in my writing so often. I wish that anyone who ever reads here would simply, somehow, know what my position is and that I’d never have to state it again). It’s taking ownership of our thoughts an attitudes, something we are advised to do throughout Scripture.

And now, The Fish Slapping Dance. Not because it means anything. Not because it must be analyzed. Because it’s 17 seconds of sheer, unbridled silliness. It’s okay to giggle over this and promptly replay.

Bonus content: The Spanish Inquisition compilation. (Yes, I love Monty Python and yes, Michael Palin is my favorite. Some of my fondest memories involve acting out absurd, stupid sketches with old friends, both original and ones that we blatantly stole from this British comedy troupe. Please don’t sue us, gents. We have no money).

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Five Minute Friday: Lift (Plus a Sneak Peek)

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com

Gentle Reader,

#PhelpsFace might be the greatest thing to come out of a sporting competition in a long time. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, head to Google immediately). I finally have a way to describe how I feel when I’m operating on too little sleep.

Or when I’m faced with the prospect of meatloaf. At least now I can pull out the vegetarian card.

Kate says: lift.

Go.

A cheerful disposition is good for your health;
    gloom and doom leave you bone-tired.

– Proverbs 17:22 (MSG)

I believe in the power of laughter to lift our weary souls. And since I’m too tired to write anything remotely coherent, enjoy this.

Stop.

And now, drumroll please…

A side project…

Not the one I’m trying to get traditionally published…

But still a book…

Untitled design

Coming October 25, 2016!

My journey to faith. (15)

Photo Credit: Seth Doyle

These Words of Mine

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com

Gentle Reader,

I’m not serious enough for the academy. Nor am I funny enough to go into comedy. Too liberal for my conservative friends and too conservative for the liberal ones. A Christian and a feminist in a time and place when many think the two cannot coexist. It’s a strange space in which to dwell.

This is on my mind today because people have asked me recently why I write the way I do. Why a piece on a Monday bordering on (but never quite crossing into) the academic followed by a piece on a Friday in the style of a stream-of-consciousness journal entry? Why the polemical cozied up to the fluffy? Why the sarcasm tucked into the serious?

I don’t think about my “craft” or “art” that often. (Seems awfully pretentious to use those terms in relation to these little scribbles). I don’t consider the why or the ways. Rarely do I plan or outline. I sit down, I write. That’s it.

My version of thinking out loud, I suppose.

The juxtaposition of the deep and the wide, the theological and the absurd, the reflective and the shallow found here isn’t an attempt to be either clever or jarring. I don’t know how to write any other way because I don’t know how to think any other way. Yes, let’s talk Kierkegaard and textual criticism and politics and then in the next breath shout “irregardless!” in the affected Southie accent of Sully and Denise. (Thank you, Tina Fey). Let’s hopscotch from Jonah’s anger to the unabashed delight found in eating a fresh chocolate chip cookie. Let’s intensely study the role of women in church and society and then riff on that weird thing that one dude said.

Maybe it’s a little manic. I don’t know. I just can’t handle being serious all the time. I can’t. The bent of my nature is toward the gloom and the doom. A certain heaviness always weighs upon me. If I don’t tackle the sunlight and the laughter, I’m done for. I know that there are important issues. I know that things are happening. I know that responses must be weighed, measured and crafted. I understand the responsibility found in casting my words to the wind.

Yet I believe that silliness is a must. We need silly. We need fun. We need to laugh so hard that the sound ceases and the tears of happiness roll. Without the precious gift of humor, we’ll be swallowed up and washed away by tsunamis of fear and bitterness. And just what would be the point of that?

I wonder what might happen if we began to be known for our smiles instead of our frowns. Again, I know. We have responsibilities. We bear the Gospel message. We must stand for justice. There are bills to pay and kids to raise and relationships to tend. There are deadlines and housework and doctor visits. Hard, bad things happen and we suffer.

But what if, somehow, all of it was navigated with a smile, a chuckle and a gentle hand? What if we moved about on this earth as people who understand that joy – even happy – is a good thing? A necessary thing? As people who understand that faith and sour expressions are not meant to go together?

I do not mean denial or hiding. What we need to do is give ourselves permission to giggle. To unplug from all the deep, heavy stuff and sigh with laughter. The deep, heavy stuff will be there later. Just for a moment, set it down. Let it go. Throw your arms open and do a ridiculous little dance. Poke fun at the big, scary thing.

God knows we’ll be crushed if we don’t laugh. Wit and sarcasm are liberally sprinkled throughout the Bible. And have you seen some of the animals out there? Ridiculous.

Sometimes we just need a release. We can come back to the important things later. We need to pause and say, “This is so weird and I’m tickled over it.” Like a bright little buoy bouncing on choppy seas.

That’s why I write the way I do.

My journey to faith. (15)

31 Things

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com

Gentle Reader,

It’s my birthday!

And I haven’t slept in four nights.

So nothing deep for you here today. Just a list, presented in an order of no significance whatsoever.

31 of My Favorite Things That Should Probably Be Your Favorite Things (Unless You’re a Man, in Which Case Some of These will Not Apply)

1. Sleeping late on a rainy day.

2. Towels straight from the dryer.

3. Iced coffee. Okay, not really coffee. More like chocolate lactose-free milk with like a half-shot of coffee. (I never said I was mature).

4. Watching a movie you’ve seen so many times you can turn the sound off and quote the whole thing.

5. Family dinner every Sunday night.

6. Friends. Even as they come and go. Even when years pass and you suddenly reconnect. I know some of the best people and am genuinely blessed.

7. This:

8. Hand-crafted, unique furniture. (If it’s made by your husband, so much the better).

9. Pizza. (Again, never said I was mature).

10. Sweatpants.

11. But also high heels.

12. Just never together.

13. This:

14. Bacon. Except I can’t eat it anymore. This is especially sad.

15. Big ol’ surgery scars. Rock that.

16. Curly hair. Technically this is also a hate, as any woman with curly hair knows. But when it’s good, it’s real good.

17. Red lipstick.

18. The deep sigh of a dog sleeping by your feet.

19. Books. The smell, the feel, the look. (Ebooks do not count. I can’t even).

20. Using the words “cray” and “bae” in order to drive other people up the wall.

21. Bible study. If you think the Bible is boring or weird or outdated, it’s because you’ve never dug into it.

22. Ladies nights filled with chick flicks, chocolate and facials.

23. Dancing.

24. Meyers-Briggs personality profiles. Fascinating.

25. Volunteering at the women’s shelter.

26. Bizarre reference questions. You just don’t even know the kinds of things people will ask librarians.

27. This:

28. Social media. I sometimes hate it. I’ll disappear for awhile. But it’s mostly fun.

29. The written word. I don’t know where I’d be without it.

30. The sound of fallen leaves crunching under your feet in October.

31. Good music. In every genre, but especially stuff like this:

Bonus 32 (You Know, to Grow On)

All of you who read this blog. It’s a strange thing, the writing life. Many of us who tap the keys are quite shy. There’s a reason we type instead of talk. Often hitting “publish” brings up a whole set of fears and neuroses. We wonder how you, out there in the vague vastness of internetdom, will take the words we labor over. We wonder if you will understand. We hope to somehow speak to you, to journey with you, to entertain you. We try to give expression to things too big to feel, too deep to understand. We want to encourage you to keep on going when things are tough and dark.

Without you, we only talk to ourselves.

Thank you, dear one. For reading, for commenting, for all the birthday messages you’ve sent. I appreciate your presence. I enjoy our interactions. I am so grateful that you would take the time to come here, click and scroll.

Now go crank up the music, mow down on some pizza and enjoy this Monday!

My journey to faith. (15)