They are six and nine. Riding in the back seat of my car on the way to hike at the park, these two “all boys” decided to try to meditate. I heard them say to each other, “Now, close your eyes and clear your minds.” It got quiet. But in a few seconds, they burst out laughing. Again, “Close your eyes and clear your minds.” Again, silence—then uproarious laughter.
I thought, “This is the way to do it.” When I meditate, I too have trouble quieting my mind for any length of time. I too lose concentration. But, my response is not so much laughter as condemnation. I think, “What’s wrong with me?” “Why can’t I do this?” I often get critical of myself and wonder if I can do anything right.
And then I think of what one of the saints of the past said about life: “The purpose of life is to love God and enjoy God forever.”
And I think, “If I am to enjoy God, why not break out in laughter?” What is it about religion in general and prayer in particular that has to be so serious? What if God desires our delight, not just our service? What if love has as much to do with laughter and delight as it does with commitment and faithfulness? What if loving has as much to do with joy as it does getting things right?
So, I resolve, “Laugh” instead of “judge.” Laugh when I lose concentration rather than judge myself as inadequate. After all, I suspect God is laughing at how seriously I am taking myself. And if God is laughing, maybe I can laugh with and in that same spirit.