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Saturday, September 18, 2021

    Laugh When It Hurts

    Reverend Susan Bantz
    The Rev. Susan Bantz serves as Chaplain at Lutheran Living Senior Campus. This is her second time living in Muscatine, where she shares a home with her two Chinese Crested dogs, Affie and Reggie, and tries to find time to read after all the chores are done.

    Muscatine Living

    A couple of weeks ago, my garbage disposal died and my kitchen faucet began to leak. It was the last straw in what had been a difficult time for me, and my frustration threatened to boil over. But instead, I called a friend who knows a lot about plumbing. I hated to ask, but he was willing to put in a new disposal and faucet for me.

    “Piece of cake,” he assured me.

    Little did I know what would follow.

    After a trip to the store to pick up the new disposal and faucet, we (meaning he) crawled under the sink. After thirty minutes of swearing, he was finally able to detach the rusty pieces. As I watched him, thinking how glad I was that it wasn’t me under there, I looked over the rest of the piping.

    “Hey,” I asked, as he emerged from the confined space, holding the rusted nuts and bolts triumphantly, “take a look at that pipe. Are you sure we don’t need to replace it, too?”

    “No, it’s just fine,” he said. To prove it, he grabbed hold of the pipe and squeezed, and the pipe disintegrated in his hand! We looked at the remains of the pipe solemnly, knowing what this meant.

    I’m sure you know, too; it meant another trip to the store for a replacement pipe and the use of one of my best kitchen knives to saw it off when it proved to be too long. The attempt to attach new to old resulted in the breaking of another pipe, and yet another trip to the store.

    Some five hours and three trips to the store after we’d started, my kitchen boasted a brand-new garbage disposal, faucet, sprayer, entirely new piping, an array of tools scattered on every flat surface, an empty wallet, and two very tired and cranky people whose simple home repair project had become a giant time–and money–sucking nightmare. There was nothing else to do.

    So we laughed!

    Why? There didn’t seem to be a reason to do it. But sometimes, when it seems like there is nothing else to be done, all you can do is laugh. Laughing reminds us that even in the midst of things that are terrible or seem unsolvable, we can still control our response. We can choose to meet hardship with humor and moxie and pluck. We can refuse to let the bad stuff win.

    So laugh. Laugh at the absurdity of life. Laugh at the way we sometimes take little things too seriously. Laugh with those you love. Laugh until you cry, if you need to, but laugh. Laughter reduces stress, improves immune function, and releases tension. Laugh, because it can make burdens seem lighter, troubles less troubling, and fears seem less frightening. Laugh because it feels good and somehow it gives us strength to try again. And sometimes, this is all we really need.

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