Nothing soothes and nourishes a wounded heart like laughing. After a season of too many tears, I can see that good humour is essential during times of struggle. Humour is a jolt of energy when we feel overwhelmed and a dose of softness when we want to feel hard.

I should not be laughing right now. Most people have thought this (or been told this) at some time or another, as if we are only permitted to laugh when life is good. When we maintain a sense of humour despite it all, it is not as if we do not take the pains of our lives and this world seriously. Truth be told, it doesn’t always make sense to laugh, but OOHH… does it ever feel good! Maintaining a sense of humour during the times when I “should not” has been my lifeline, my saving grace.

Interspersed between the difficult days and moments, there's laughter to loosen our grip on our accumulated baggage and let ourselves be light. Rich and wonderfully hilarious moments can appear even in the midst of great loss, hurt, and anguish. How do we allow them to appear? We must first open the door a crack to allow for the possibility that there might be a little good, even here. It may not be impressive or robust, but it is here, as understated and wonderful as an oatmeal cookie.

With the door a crack open, humour bubbles up – cautiously at first, stifled by a solid case of the shoulds – perhaps a small grin with wet eyelashes, or a few muffled gurgles of laughter. Despite it all, we chuckle, tease, snicker, and find puns. We are silly and playful. Our mistakes, quirks, and shortcomings uplift others and help create intimacy. And somehow, sharing these pieces of ourselves, we are also nourished.

In time the courage to laugh despite it all grows, like a muscle gradually strengthened. We learn that we do not need to feel perfectly happy to laugh.