The Laughter of Women

What a language it is, the laughter of women,
high-flying and subversive.
Long before law and scripture
we heard the laughter, we understood freedom.

~Lisel Mueller

I had dinner last night with friends at a new restaurant in Hattiesburg, Petra Cafe. It was excellent. I felt like a stuffed grape leaf by the time we nibbled our way through every appetizer three women could reasonably order, and I basically gave up all pretense of being a person who has ever even met a diet plan, but I left feeling alive and well.

My writing prompt for yesterday was to think of a moment from this past year when I felt most alive.  I had to really consider that one.  I could think of a lot of moments when I didn’t feel alive at all.  I knew there were times when I had, though.

It’s probably good other people are supplying the prompts right now.  Left to my own devises, the year’s end reflection prompts might be more like “think of your most aggravating moment from this year” or “describe the most annoying person you had to deal with this year.”  Reverb 10, if nothing else, is helping to prove that a more positive outlook can be dragged out of me on occasion.

In that spirit, here are some other contenders for moments of life in 2010:

Holding my newest grandniece for the first time

Purchasing and experimenting with my first digital SLR camera

Gardening

Walking

Playing with children

Talking my friends into climbing over the “no trespassing” gate to trespass on my family’s land

Picking blueberries with my dad

Eating blueberries

Watching my nephew get married with four generations of his family standing beside him

Laughing with women

Laughter ought to be a daily requirement in life.   Laughter is medicine, the old Reader’s Digests told us, and now doctors are starting to agree.

You don’t have to be in a good mood to laugh.  You can put yourself in a good mood by laughing.

It helps, though, if you try this exercise in the company of friends.  It helps if you go to a nice restaurant and order foods you haven’t tried before.  It helps if you swap stories.

They say the best revenge is a life well lived.  Maybe the saying should be “a life well laughed.”  Hearty mockery is fairly effective as revenge goes.  It’s best practiced in the company of a few good friends.  What a language it is, the laughter of women.

Wonder (Reverb 10, Day 4)

Today’s prompt: “How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?”

I don’t know what anyone else did this year, but I took pictures.

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This is from an oak tree in my parents’ front yard. I took it this afternoon on a whim. I was out there taking pictures of a cat. I paused for a second to snap this one as I walked by the tree. It’s quick, and it’s blurry, and it’s unplanned. I didn’t stop to study the tree or to think about how to get the best shot of it.

If I’m really trying to capture just the right thing, I might take hundreds of pictures of a single acorn, but that wasn’t what I did today. This is my only shot of the acorns. I didn’t expect anything from it. When I opened it up on the computer to see what I had, though, my mother, my sister, and I all said, “Oh!”

It’s December. Everything is looking somewhat brown. I didn’t particularly consider that there might be pieces of green beauty to be scavenged from this brown yard, but here we have one. I found an “oh” moment, an invocation of wonder. That’s why I love my camera. I never know what it is going to reveal to me about the world around me.

Here’s another one.

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This was one of the first pictures I took after I bought my camera in January of this year. I couldn’t tell what I was seeing. I only spotted some color amongst the weeds. I thought I had found a rare winter flower petal. It was only when I pulled it onto the computer that I could tell I was looking at was a piece of trash. This was fireworks debris from New Year’s Eve. It isn’t particularly lovely once you know what it is, but then again, maybe there is something to it after all–a small bit of wonder in an otherwise drab yard.

And how about this yellow jacket and the tiny drop of water on the grass?

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Or this one, another quick and blurry where we get to see the reflection of the Daddy Long Legs in the side of the berry bucket?

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Or this one, where I did not notice until after the fact that there was a fly in the azalea?

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Then, of course, there was the bunny I almost caught flying through the air in an effort to get away from me.

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All of the little accidental moments bring such wonder into my life.

Life is stressful, uncertain, and full of worries, but there is transcendence to be found. There is wonder. For some of us, that wonder comes in the little things.

Picking up a camera, I think, is an act of faith. It is a way of saying to yourself the world is not forsaken. On the surface, the landscape of my life may appear grim, but if I step out there and look around with nothing more than hope as my guide, what beauty there is will find me.

Maybe that is what people mean when they say they know Grace.