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Laughter is always the best medicine

By Davison Cheney

For Mormon Times

Published: Monday, May 23 2011 6:00 a.m. MDT

General authorities of the LDS Church have always encouraged members to be joyful. When dealing with suffering Elder Kimball teased, “When I was sick, I read (a positive attitude book) from lid to lid, and I went trotting around, saying: ‘Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better.’ Every morning when I got up I was worse and worse” (General conference, April 1926).

After recovering from surgery on his vocal cords, President Spencer W. Kimball said in an Arizona conference, "I went away to the East and while I was there I fell among thieves and cutthroats. They cut my throat and stole my voice” (BYU Studies, “Spencer W. Kimball).

Even in Mormon funerals, humor is the binding that keeps the book of a life together, with laughter through tears being common. At the last LDS funeral I attended, the officers of our military folded the flag and presented it to the widow. After marching to their vehicle, through an undiscovered open window they casually confirmed in the reverberating and reverent silence that the widow of the decorated deceased was “hot.” The Mormon widow, who was my friend, was not beyond a smile.

Levity in Mormonland can be the great equalizer, can create a learning situation out of painful moments and can lighten hearts weighted with weariness. My Mormon family has grown to include my neighborhood and my local ward. My community is now over 14 million strong, and sometimes a lesson in cheerfulness helps me affirm my faith in humanity.

President Brigham Young stated soberly, “Study … and you will be able to control your minds. And when you come to meeting, bring your minds with you” (Journal of Discources, 8:125).

Having and maintaining a sense of humor in church participation is becoming mandatory for my Mormon family. Humor will get me through Sunday when the primary sings to the congregation and mothers wave back to their waving children.

I remember my own mother in a lovely inflexible woolen suit lifting both hands above her head to lead the congregation in the opening hymn while her family seated below bowed their heads. To this day we are grateful today that she always insisted on wearing a full slip.

Davison Cheney humorously blogs davisoncheney.blogspot.com.

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