I remember my mom telling me a story years ago about a small country church and a baptism gone awry. It’s one of those stories you just never forget. I can only imagine if I’d actually been there to see it. I would’ve been in serious trouble!
Let me set the stage. This was one of those little Baptist churches where everybody in the surrounding area came to worship. Back then, church was a solemn event. Women wore bonnets and white gloves, men wore ties, and kids were to be seen and not heard. And nobody would ever think of cracking a joke inside the sanctuary.
This was one of those churches where baptisms involved full immersion of the body. The baptismal was a small pool, situated behind the choir and elevated so all in the congregation could witness the blessed event.
On this particular occasion, a woman was being baptized. She wasn’t a petite woman. In fact, she was rather large. Okay, she was huge. At the appointed time, as the choir sang soft praises, the scene unfolded behind them. The preacher eased the woman backward into the water with a rehearsed blessing. But as he tried to raise her back up, the combination of wet hands and a few extra cheeseburgers kicked in.
She was about halfway to her feet when gravity took over, and she fell back into the water, sending a tidal wave crashing across the front of the baptismal and onto the unsuspecting choir. And nobody laughed. Okay, nobody laughed then. Mom started to snicker a little, but Grandma pinched her so hard she almost cried. Still, I have a feeling once they were all safely outside the church, it was a completely different scene.
We are among the only creatures in the world that have the capability to see humor in a situation and break into spontaneous laughter. It’s a gift from our creator, a wonderful gift that we were meant to enjoy. And, as we’ll discuss in future blogs, it’s one of the best things we can do for our body.
Granted, there are situations where we probably should hold our laughter for a more appropriate time, like when the boss locks himself in the restroom stall and starts making obnoxious bodily noises. But sometimes comic relief is just what the doctor ordered. Don’t hold it in too long. Laughter is something we need to practice. Otherwise, like any other skill, we could lose it forever.
I’ve often wondered how long it took that poor woman to find the humor in the situation. I’m sure she was humiliated at the moment. But unless she was fighting some vicious inner demons regarding her weight, I’m betting she didn’t last much longer than anybody else in the congregation. And I’m sure that, once she was able to laugh about it, the humiliation faded, her stress level went to zero, and she was able to go home and enjoy a nice big piece of chocolate cake to celebrate her baptism.
And over the years, I bet she’s gotten even more laughs from that story than my mom. I sure hope so.
Copyright 2011 – Dave Glardon