It was Easter Sunday, 2021. Jim and I had been with St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church about four months by then. We were finally accustomed to using Zoom, with our congregation on the computer, and our computer on the altar where the camera could catch the service. Andy and Vicki ran Zoom from their home; but that morning they were both sick and had had to teach their college-age daughter how to run the service–especially how to insert the music videos we used.
We used canned music and I had chosen a rousing version of Resucitó (he is risen, in Spanish) for the offertory music. Easter Sunday, after the sermon, I stood there, basking in this beautiful mariachi music, trumpets and stringed instruments supporting the singers. I checked the missal, making sure it was ready for the Eucharistic Prayer when the song finished. There was one last crescendo Re—su–CI–TÓ, with the final note held and held. I took a breath to begin. “Are you tired? Are you fatigued?” said a chirpy voice. I glanced at the computer and saw an ad beginning. My stomach began to tighten with amusement. I turned to the missal as the video clicked off, and began, “The Lord be with you,” but as the congregation replied I started to laugh. It was just a tiny giggle at first, but by the time I said, “Lift up your hearts,” I was laughing aloud. Jim, who was very serious touched my arm to calm me. I knew he was aghast, and I tried to pull myself together.
I took a deep breath. Another. I began the third line, “Let us give thanks…” but I sputtered into laughter again. I quickly scolded myself and was just beginning to feel calmed when Jim again put his hand on my arm. “Don’t touch me!” I hissed at him, for all to hear. Deep breaths. I began again. “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God,” I said, mostly without laughter. I turned the page and was ready to continue when Jim snorted. Hearing him laugh, I lost my fragile control. Laughter rolled out of me, joyous laughter, belly laughter–the kind when you watch I Love Lucy. On and on it went. As I laughed I thought, “I’m not doing anything wrong, but I cannot stop.” Slowly the laughter grew more gentle, until finally I was laughed out. Then I finished the service.
Jim and I shut down the computer and went home. Jim was worried, but I was guilt-free and feeling light, high. Joy-filled. Because laughter does that, doesn’t it? It fills us with lightness and joy. During the rest of that Easter day we heard from parishioners, some of whom said they also had begun to laugh at the chirpy ad right on the heels of such a beautiful song.
It was Easter of 2021, in the middle of a world-wide pandemic, when I saw clearly that laughter is also resurrection, bringing us from deadness to joy.