You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘laughter’ tag.

If you love the truth, be a lover of silence. Silence like the sun will illuminate you in God—a trenchant saying attributed to the seventh-century Isaac the Syrian, Bishop, theologian, and monk, and regarded a saint by the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Such words reveal the unseen caught in the flux of time. Key to this process is passion, whose firelight, like the sun, ignites inner worlds and cleanses them. But who cares to go there—To discipline unruly instincts clamoring for expression? That would be like dying. Such flies in the face of our cultural mores, entrapped in denial, rationalization, and idealization. The predictable is more comfortable, yet soulless.

It does not take much to see who is truly alive among us: their quickening gaze, their resonant voices, their laughter—They just seem to know. During my work years, I had sought out such teachers.

One of these was Ocie, a hospice patient with cropped white hair, a toothless grin, the frayed shirttails of her deceased husband spilling over her shorts. Barefoot, she leaned into her quad cane as she hobbled to the door. Of no importance, her right side shriveled by stroke, her fingernails still dirtied from back-porch gardening.

Hilarity enlivened her cramped bungalow, filled with bookcases of salt and pepper-shakers from most of the States, rusted birdcages she had used for breeding canaries, stacks of faded albums jammed with photos, and a dusty Singer sewing machine half-buried beneath swatches of cloth. As we walked to her kitchen, mating turtles outside the window unleashed her squeals.

Ocie’s ensuing story shimmered with fires of all magnitudes. Like Simon the Syrian’s silence, hers was also tinged by uproar, thereby mirroring God’s outrageous humor.

I still smile remembering her gusto, despite the shortness of her days.

“Click!” sounded the front door as it was pushed open, the gutter still dripping from the early morning squall. She shook her umbrella and stepped inside.

It was her smooth chocolate hands—hands unflinchingly willing to serve—that first quickened my heart to her inner riches, warmed by a bright smile.

I first experienced her caring hands, three years ago, while convalescing from multiple fractures. She supported my daily efforts toward independence and knew when to step back as I regained more responsibility over my affairs. In subsequent years, we remained friends as more of her story emerged.

Widowed with three little ones, grandmother, decades of caring for patients in hospitals and skilled nursing homes: all have gentled her hands, with when to touch and when to let go. In private homes, no housework was too much: cleaning, washing, scrubbing, cooking, mopping. No errands slighted. Transportation to doctors’ offices, emergency rooms, and rehab also supported her patients. Informing the work of her hands has been the lifelong study of the bible with its ancillary materials.

However, due to my terminal illness with its weakness and shortness of breath, she has returned to my home: This time, to watch and support my gradual decline as I move toward my transition. She has also lined up additional caregivers when my needs increase. Handy with the hose, she presently keeps my grass watered and the marigolds pruned.

I remain in good hands and I’m grateful. She has become the black sister I never had.

Her name is Tracy McNeil. (618-975-1001)

Excitement buzzed outside my window this morning. It was Independence Day, its spirit given expression by masked neighbors standing around the lemonade stand. Upon it sat the blue cooler, cups, and the moneybox. No matter the oppressive heat and humidity. Soon to be eight-year-old Sloane, her brunette hair in a topknot, had initiated this gathering, supported by her parents, and it was well underway when I picked up their hilarity. Her brother Clark, barefoot and looking taller since last month, helped dispense the lemonade to the thirsty.

Toddlers milled circles around grandparents, hugged their thighs, then took off again; a dad sat in a folding chair stroking the tanned back of his daughter; Sloane made a sign affixed to a pole for passing motorists; a T-shirted mother pushed a stroller with her newborn, another curly-haired toddler at her side; other kids, in helmets, on scooters, stopped by—a whirligig of animation.

Covid threat or not, nothing could damper my neighbors’ enthusiasm. From behind colorful masks, laughter lifted spirits, released tension, deepened camaraderie—a much-needed tonic to ward off the pervading gloom.

It will pass, in time…

Available on Amazon

%d bloggers like this: