My friend Karla* and her husband lived in the country and owned a pair of very large dogs. The pups often brought their kind owners small “gifts” collected while roaming outdoors.
One evening one of the dogs found a special prize, and rushed into the house to present it. But no one seemed to be about so the dog went hunting, his gift in his mouth. He searched the kitchen, the living room and bedroom.
When the pup finally found Karla, he dumped the present in her lap and waited for praise.
Just one problem: Karla was busy. In the washroom. Actually, when the pup barged in, she was soaking in a tub full of bubbles. And she had never had a bath with a muskrat before.
Especially not a live one.
It’s likely safe to say that the reverse was also true for the muskrat.
What happened next is a little unclear. As I recall the story, my startled friend did what came naturally—hollered and leapt out. Unfortunately, so did the muskrat. The two of them stood dripping and screaming at each other for a millisecond, then took off in opposite directions.
I laughed so hard when I first heard that tale I was sure I’d loosened something vital. Medical science tells me what I really did: decreased my stress hormones and raised my immune-boosting ones. People who laugh often, scientists tell us, may also be at less risk for depression, heart disease and osteoporosis.
The Preacher and I spend time with another set of friends almost every weekend. We seldom leave each other without having had at least one great laugh. But on our last evening together, fatigue dampened our conversation. Laughter seemed far off.
Late in the evening, the conversation circled to spring flooding and the topic of dams. That was when I recalled the dam letters—a now infamous exchange of words between the State of Michigan and Stephen Tvedten.
Beavers had built a dam across a spring on Tvedten’s country property. When a neighbour complained, the state charged Tvedten with “illegal dam activity.” Tvedten’s letter of response and creative use of the word “dam” caused a brouhaha that quickly went viral on the internet.
I located the dam letters online and read them aloud. In the space of a minute, a table of four tired and slightly cranky people transitioned to just shy of fall-down-and-slap-your-hands-on-the-floor kind of guffaws. We parted light hearted—lifted by laughter.
King Solomon, author of the book of Proverbs, spoke several times in chapters 15, 16, and 17 about the connection between joy and laughter and health. You likely know one of those verses: “A merry heart is like good medicine, but a broken spirit dries out bones.”
If anyone has reason for laughter, it’s Christ’s followers. People of purpose, people of destiny: laugh a little. Laugh a lot. It does The Body—and spirit good.
*not her actual name