Last summer my husband and I went to Kauai for two weeks. It was a beautiful trip where I absolutely fell in love with sea turtles. We started to notice as the days passed there, the most common car on the island was a yellow jeep. We started to point them out and create a silly game, saying "screamin' heebie-jeepie!" and then decided each time we had to give each other a kiss (sort of a much nicer version of orange punch-bug). Since we passed them on the road all the time, it made for a very romantic trip. The delightful part is that ever since our return a year ago we have continued to play this game, even though the yellow jeeps are much fewer and farther between in our city. There are two regularly parked in our neighborhood though which we often see on the morning walks we are taking together during our shared summer days.
One of the other games we play is "tell me their story." Sometimes on a walk, or more often sitting in a restaurant or cafe, one of us will notice an interesting looking person or group and we will turn to each other and say "tell me their story." It is a great exercise for the imagination and we often pass the story back and forth and continue it through the day, sometimes weaving complex connections between other people we see.
We often take prayer and our faith very seriously, forgetting that God wants our laughter and joy just as much. Laughter has no real practical function, it is sheer gift. A few years ago I was on a women's retreat with some friends at a yoga center and we were all swimming in the lake and laughing quite a bit out of sheer joy of being with one another. One of my friends was worried we were being too loud and I told her "God wants to hear our laughter." She tells me she still remembers that moment clearly with delight. Certainly laughter can sometimes be cruel or disruptive, but do we allow ourselves time for play in our serious adult lives?
So, "screamin' heebie-jeepie!" Go kiss someone you love or promise to do so next time you see them. Then do something that lets you laugh freely and remember God's delight in that sound.
-Christine Valters Paintner @ Abbey of the Arts