The Herald Bulletin

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August 30, 2013

Verna Davis: Gift of laughter can see us through hard times

I believe it was Ethel Barrymore who said we know we are grown up when we have learned to laugh at ourselves. If that is true, then I must surely be one of the most grown-up people I know.

I am in my 60s, and I know a lot about laughing at myself. (Never mind how far into my 60s I am. I told you my age so you would know how long I have been laughing at myself!)

I laughed (although not at the time) at the lighting of the unity candle at my wedding because my veil got a little too close to the flame, giving me a new definition of “Come on Baby, Light my Fire!” I laughed when I turned my hair orange because I was too cheap to go to the hairdresser for the help I obviously needed. I laughed when I told my college roommate, “If the shoe wears, fits it.”

At the beginning of my public speaking career, I found myself speaking at a banquet. The stage was festooned with a flower-adorned arch that was arching over a chubby cherub pouring water into a fountain. The setting was so perfect I knew I was in trouble. They were expecting serious words and deep spiritual truths. What they got was me. I sent up a quick but earnest prayer for help.When they handed me the microphone, I did some of my best stuff. I told stories about my daughter’s journey through her teens, my son’s wacky sense of humor, my husband’s knack for using every mistake I’ve ever made as a sermon illustration. I had ‘em laughing up a storm and rolling in the aisles.

Except for one rather dignified lady. She smiled occasionally, but there was no laughter. When I talked about the physical and spiritual benefits of laughter, the lady began nodding her head in agreement. When I closed my presentation, the lady was laughing through tears.

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