_ TODAY, popular author and columnist Benjamin Pratt wants you to have some fun! His recent column about 50 years of marriage has been read by countless men and women around the world—and shared widely across a number of websites and Facebook and emails. One of the most common responses to that column from readers was: "Thanks for including humor in your advice for marriage!" Once again, Benjamin took your wisdom back to his keyboard—and now he invites you to share a new column far and wide.
And, this time, there's a prize! Yes, this is a column about humor—but there really is a prize! Read on ... _
EVERYTHING HAS ITS TIME:
“a time to weep, and a time to laugh”
THE BIBLE TELLS US: Jesus wept. It does not tell us he laughed.
But, it's hard for me to imagine that this man who brought us a message of love, hope, and joy did not laugh often, even when surrounded by pain, misery and poverty. All we need to do is listen to Jesus’s parables to know he had a sense of humor. He dined with prostitutes and tax collectors and kept the table open for all. He brought together all the folks we call good and those we call bad—and called them the Kingdom of God.
A number of years ago, when driving north from Asheville, NC, on the Blue Ridge Parkway, I visited the so-called Churches of the Frescoes where I was deeply moved by the paintings of Ben Long. Fresco art, which was practiced for centuries in Italy, is the art of painting on wet plaster. Powdered pigments, mixed with water, are applied to and absorbed by fresh lime plaster, actually becoming part of the wall. Ben Long, a native North Carolinian, apprenticed in Italy and returned to his home mountains to paint masterpiece frescoes such as, “St. John the Baptist,” “The Mystery of Faith” and “The Last Supper.”
But over the many years since I saw those frescoes, the painting most vividly fixed in my mind and heart is a painting created by one of Long's students who also was working at the chapel site: Bo Bartlett, who now is a well-known painter in his own right. Bartlett's image is: “The Laughing Jesus.” It was inspired by the story of a priest who had made a miraculous recovery from a stroke. The priest, while on his deathbed, had a vision of Christ laughing while his healing was taking place.
I love to laugh. Throughout much of our 50 years of marriage, my wife Judith and I have spent hours laughing with our friends Jim and Sandy. We play tricks on each other. They have deposited a decorated toilet bowl, filled with flowers, on our front porch to welcome us home from a trip. Then there was the 5-foot-tall stuffed flamingo, decorated for the 4th of July, that appeared on our porch.
Oh, we have reciprocated! One that makes us continue to laugh involves a broom! In the early days of our marriages, when we had young children and not one nickel to rub against another, we often vacationed at state parks and used one cabin for all seven of us. The first stay was at Hungry Mother State Park in south west Virginia in a very, very rustic cabin.
One couple would often take the children off for a couple of hours to give the other couple a chance for privacy. We left Jim and Sandy alone one morning as we trotted off with the kids. As we meandered along the road, we met one of the park attendants. We mentioned that we definitely needed a broom to sweep our cabin. Hey, we are innocent, right? A simple request, right?
Not our fault that the broom was delivered at, shall we say, a most awkward moment!
Oh, the laughter that broom delivery has brought down through the years. One year, at the time of Jim's and Sandy’s wedding anniversary, they were in Florida visiting his mother. We called Jim’s mom and arranged with her to deliver a broom to them as an anniversary gift. She did it with great delight and much laughter.
So, it has happened again. The picture below came to us on our 50th anniversary. Laughter filled our hearts, and gratitude for all the years we have supported each other flowed back and forth. All four of us have been caregivers of our spouses or members of our extended family. Upon occasions, we have wept and felt the burdens and joys of that work. The burdens of caregiving has been lightened by the love and laughter we have shared.
THE BROOM: THE PRIZE
I'm not going to tell you the caption that was attached to this silly painting when we first saw it. In fact, "our" caption may not even strike you as funny. My question to you, dear readers is: What funny caption can you add?
THE PRIZE: Craft our own caption and submit it either in the Comment section below. Or, email ReadTheSpirit@gmail.com We will select the most stellar and I will send the winner an autographed copy of my book, A Guide for Caregivers.