Wednesday, February 5, 2014

LAUGHTER: Day 2 with my accountability group

Who on earth are you? Asian facials
 Oh did we laugh!

We doubled over, shaking with mirth until the tears streamed down our cheeks behind the masks. We'd patted on Asian facial masks last night - and then couldn't stand the sight. We took goofy pictures and made faces at each other, while talking about our relationships with friends and family (between chuckles, of course.)

Laughter has always been part of our journey together. I first met Patti in 1992, when she was nurse for the children's choir camp I'd inherited at the last minute. Our camp manager reneged on his responsibilities, so leadership fell on me two weeks before camp started. We rallied volunteers, packed over 100 kids into busses, and had a fantastic week.

Our wacky friendships
Across the hall from my room was the nurse's station. Patti bandaged hearts and limbs as the children streamed in and out.

On the final night, Patti and I walked across the parking lot to the hall where parental volunteers were putting on a show for the kids. She'd painted a big red cross on a white girdle, perching it on her head as a "nursing cap." Over her thrift-store white tennis skirt, she'd pulled a blue cape. White knee-highs topped her white sneakers. Patti schlepped a little blue suitcase as a pretend medical bag. Honestly, she looked like a nurse from a madhouse.

We laughed so hard that we kept having to stop to cross our legs (first time I ever considered the value of Depends). We howled, and barely made it to the show. Oh, how that memory still makes a smile break out!

Hugs after dinner
Patti and I built a solid friendship over the next year, shrieking with laughter at IKEA in Vancouver, talking about homeschool, and studying scripture. In the autumn of 1993, we called Phyllis, a mutual acquaintance, asking if she'd like to form a group with us. "Is it confidential?" she asked right off the bat. "And why would we meet?"

"Yes," we replied. "Utterly confidential. And we'd meet for spiritual accountability." She was in. Then in January 1994, Wilhelmina joined us and the circle of four was complete.

We have laughed and cried our way through sicknesses and health, family transitions, relationship crises, and financial windfalls and reversals. We've showed up for showers, birthdays, weddings, funerals, and celebrations.

Last evening, I thought my heart would burst with gratitude, even as my belly was shaking, looking at the dear, funny faces of my friends.

The house where we laughed and cried
our way during 12 years of retreats
Who do YOU laugh and cry with? Can you trust them completely? Are you committed to praying for their well-being? Determined to keep their secrets safe, as they keep yours?

It took prayer and hard work to bond as a group. But the years of laughter and joy - as well as many tears - have more than repaid our efforts. We've done some pretty funny things over two decades.

Thanks be to God, who laughs - and cries - with us.

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