(19) God’s joke

God told me a joke
and seeing him laugh has done more for me
than any scripture I will
ever read.

– Meister Eckhart

Who laughs when the joke is told? The teller? Or the hearer? The intention is usually to cause the listener to laugh. But isn’t that just because the joke-teller already knows the punch line, yet still finds it remarkable enough, delightful enough, to repeat? Laugh with me, share this moment of delight I uncovered.

“God told me a joke and seeing him laugh…” 

Maybe it’s the laughter at the delightful ridiculousness of birds who run rather than fly, or who balance on one leg to sleep. Maybe it’s the laughter at the incredulity, the impossibility of conception — a whole new life, an entire human body, apparently self-generating, growing from the merging of microscopic cells. Maybe it is the laughter at the unmeasurable expanse of galaxy and space and time — “Do you grasp the expanse? Do you get it? Not yet? Isn’t that fantastic?

Maybe it is the laughter of anticipation as the punchline is delivered and a slow look of recognition, understanding, spreads across the other’s face, followed by peals of laughter in unison. The laughter of oh my goodness, you are going to love this! You will never believe how funny/remarkable/hilarious/wonderful this will be!

This is, perhaps, a glimpse into the light-as-air-ness of God’s nature. In all of His bigness and powerfulness, sacrifice and suffering, omniscience, grace, and understanding, there is somehow this humor, this way in which life is not meant to be taken seriously. Not too seriously, anyway. We see him, we know him differently, almost more deeply sometimes, in the remarkable silliness of flamingos, rhinoceros, bats upside down, muddy children… Do you suppose this is partly what Meister Eckhart was thinking when he wrote this poem?


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