Laughter is one of God's better gifts to us. Like all of his gifts, it can and often is twisted and perverted for evil purposes, but in pure form, it is a delight that lightens the burdens and lifts the heavy heart. We laugh a lot in the Bailey family, usually right after ascertaining that the object of our mirth is not seriously hurt. It was a little more than fifteen years ago when I was messing around in the backyard with my classic 1942 Harley. I hadn't had it long and was getting used to the foot clutch and tank shift, which to the uninitiated, is a bit trickier than it looks. I was doing pretty well until the time I put it in gear and looked up to see a clothesline right about neck high about fifteen feet in front of me. Somewhat rattled by the vision, I clipped a nearby lilac bush with the right handlebar. Those who witnessed the affair insist that it was operator error, but I prefer to think of it as pure biker athleticism as I executed a perfect forward flip through the air. I have to admit a slight miscalculation at the end, although I did stick the landing. Unfortunately, I was flat on my back and actually heard the ribs break as I hit the ground. I picked myself up, righted the bike and killed the throttle before those ribs registered their displeasure.
Linda was in the backyard at the time, and ran to me (sounds tender, doesn't it?), and found me lying on the ground in a fetal position. Thinking I had had a heart attack, she was very solicitous until she learned what had been my undoing, and that it was probably not fatal. I won't say that she collapsed in peals of laughter, but the smirks and uncontrollable shaking were dead giveaways. Knowing there wasn't anything that could be done for broken ribs, I tried to refuse a trip to the emergency room, but was outvoted. It wouldn't have been so bad if that had been the end of it, but my kids called in their friends who all traipsed down to the hospital to enjoy the show, which they did immensely, much to my dismay. Nowadays, they wouldn't have been allowed to trail along as they wheeled me, clad in one of those skimpy hospital robes, to X-ray. If they had limited their enjoyment to a few discreet chuckles, I wouldn't have complained, but I could have done without all their pointing and outright guffaws at my expense.
In recent weeks, I've been trading puns with our granddaughter Alex as a way of maintaining contact while she is away at college. Most of them are admittedly pretty pathetic, to the point that her roommate told her she really wasn't very funny at all. But we just chalk it up to jealousy that she isn't a Bailey, which as my nephew famously said, "Bailey charm; Can't read it in a book, can't buy it in a store." The same could be said for our sense of humor, which as Linda regularly reminds me, often comes dangerously near sounding like my father. I'm not sure, but I don't think that's a compliment. That humor however, serves to entertain us, lightening the burdens of the day, which in the humorless times in which we live, can become oppressive. Proverbs 17:22 tells us that "a merry heart does good like a medicine: but a broken spirit dries the bones." Tonight, I feel pretty healthy, having traded puns and laughed with Alex all the way home from college while her sister Abi snoozed in the back seat. And my bones feel downright soggy.