The sunshine of laughter

Published 8:37 am Wednesday, April 29, 2015

“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine” (Proverbs 17:22 KJV).

Today was a perfect day to get a good laugh in. Laughing is like jogging for the soul so I’ve heard, but I believe laughing at ourselves is the epitome of medicinal laughter. It really puts everything into perspective.

My red Toyota rolls down the country roads around Bogalusa often enough to know a lot of them by heart, but today I was thankful for “Gertrude,” my trusty navigation system. Multitasking while traveling to my interview this morning is probably why I missed my turn.

“Oh well,” I mused, “It’s is probably a good thing I left the house a few minutes early this morning.”

By this time lightning popped all around my car as “Gertrude” rerouted me down a bumpy road filled with potholes. I inched along trying not to damage my car and breathed a sigh of relief when the wheels beneath me once again clung to a well-paved road.

Finally, the beautiful country church I had been searching for slipped into view. Whispering a quick prayer, “Lord, please let the rain hold off while I get some pictures and keep me safe,” calmed my heightened senses. Lightning cracked a little too close for comfort as I scurried about trying to get that perfect shot and keep the mist from my camera’s lens. My efforts were rewarded as one photo in particular framed the church and steeple standing as if a sentinel against the foreboding sky. Silently, I named it “Shelter in the Storm.”

Upon entering the church office to conduct my interview the rain blew in torrents. “We are under a tornado watch, and I-10 has trees down everywhere,” the church secretary offered. A steady downpour drenched the earth as my pen captured enough information for a good story. I didn’t tarry long because driving through a storm is not my favorite way to spend an afternoon.

My hubby was off for lunch, so I met him at the house we are remodeling. We do a little work there every day or two and hire out the things we don’t know how to do. By this time the air had definitely taken on a chill — it was almost cold. And of all things, I was in a sundress! Mike and I rummaged though the stack of things I had brought over for a garage sale for something warm to cover my arms. When my hubby found a rather ratty wool sweater I rolled my eyes at him.

“Mike, that will look awful. It doesn’t match at all.”

“Sweetheart, it’s cold. Just put it on.”

Grudgingly I pulled the orange and blue garment on over my black and white striped dress. The ugly wool sweater felt warm and cozy, but I didn’t tell Mike so. Sometimes the “hole in the wall” places have the best food, so we headed out to one of our favorite haunts. It was packed as usual.

“Hey Jan, so glad to see you. You look great,” one of my old bosses from my public school days said kindly.

“Well thanks. It’s really good to see you too. I know I look a mess, but the weather changed so quickly I just grabbed an old sweater.”

We exchanged pleasantries for a few minutes before a sweet lady sitting nearby could stand it no longer. With twinkling eyes and a mischievous grin she reached up and took a sticky tag from my sweater with $5 prominently marked on it in blue-black ink. Giggles bubbled up from deep in my belly and spilled from my lips as the others heartily joined in.

The chill still lingered in the air, and the sky held her shade of gray. But our shared moment of laughter brought a welcome bit of sunshine into our stormy day.

Jan Penton Miller can be reached at