Today was one of the High Holy Days in our family. It came this year mid-Lent, though some years it misses the Lenten season all together. Yes, today was the much-beloved feast day for All Fools, better known as April Fool’s Day.
I don’t know when my family adopted this as a sacred tradition, but currently it ranks up there with Birthdays, Easter, Christmas, and Saint Patrick’s Day (we are of Irish decent), at least as regards the amount of celebratory preparation and requisite participation.
We all have our favorite jokes. My husband always seems to use rope, duct tape, or cellophane in his antics. My daughter uses food products. And my son likes anything that disturbs sleep patterns.
We’ve had a barrage of ways to lock one another out of bedrooms, even out of the house. We’ve had scarecrow stand-ins at bedtime, mixed up pajama drawers (mine and my son’s were switched one year), and sponge cake made from real sponges.
But this year’s best gotcha wasn’t planned. It wasn’t even intentionally executed. As my daughter and I were waiting in the swim team parking lot for my son’s practice to let out, we had the sun roof open. My daughter was standing on the arm rests of the front seats, head poking out the top, keeping watch. We had my son’s dinner (a Moe’s burrito sans the tortilla, wrapped to look like a normal burrito – a weak showing from Mom for creativity points this year, I know). The bag was standing open on the front passenger seat. Next to me, I hear a loud plop and see something, out of the corner of my eye, drop from the sky. Then I hear my daughter scream, “A bug! A HUGE bug!” I calmly grab the bag and clamp it shut. Turn, and open the car door, carefully peering inside, to be greeted by a glowing, green, long-legged, bug-eyed, grasshopper. After debating for a moment whether I would just leave the grasshopper in the bag as a dinner-time surprise (a much better joke than my lame burrito-without-a-burrito), I decided to release the poor little guy, afraid of mixing unknown grasshopper bodily secretions with the corn tortillas that were cushioning the tortilla-less burrito, or even worse, having the grasshopper come flying at my face as I zipped down I-85 on our way home.
My daughter and I laughed as we decided that God had the best April Fool’s Day gag running this year. Being made in God’s image, I’ve always assumed that God must have a sense of humor. Moments like this surprise insect visitation leave me lost in thought, wondering about the nature of God and about God as being. Ontologically, is God funny? Does God laugh? What exactly would make God laugh? I often picture Jesus smiling jovially, but did he ever sit around with James and John and just laugh from the gut, big belly-whopping laughter? Was Judas there, too? Did he get the jokes, or was he always a little reserved from the group? Was one of the disciples the jester of the group? Did Jesus ever have to give the disciples the “mom look,” as my kids call the raising of the eyebrows and gentle tilt of the head that they get from me when I want the to “cut it out” and get serious?
In the Nicene creed, Christians profess to believe in a God who created all things, seen and unseen. Seems to me that this would include the comedic elements in creation, too. I find I dwell too often on where God is in my questions and doubts, my sadness and short-comings. I am thankful today for the surprises that come at me from the littlest of creatures to remind me that God is present in the joy and laughter, too.
The Kingdom of God is like a grasshopper that lands in your dinner bag. Sounds like the beginning of a new parable, full of grace and truth, full of laughter and light.