Some families live by rules and bible quotations. Mine speaks private joke — little sayings or pop culture quotes that no one outside of our tight-knit pack would understand. This family-speak is not meant to exclude. It is our bonding mechanism, the verbal equivalent of a hug. Even my husband and sister-in-law speak it as if it were their native tongue. They’re up for a good Bubba Rangel joke, even if they’ve never seen Bubba Rangel (a grade school classmate of my brother) in their lives. Our words draw us together and bring us joy.
One of the characters in the novel The Company of Women, by Mary Gordon, hopes that heaven will be like a private joke, a sudden giddy inclusiveness, an instant feeling of belonging. That’s what our language is for us. It’s a quick rush of home and family and being part of something larger than your self.
I, too, hope heaven is like a private joke. If, upon seeing Him at last, God says to me, “Sit, Rachel,” I’ll know I’m home.
You gave us all the ability to laugh
and the desire to play.
Please help me to not confuse
taking You seriously
with taking myself too seriously.
Please help me to remember
that a laugh and a smile
and a bit of fun
can go a very long way.
Help me to rediscover
the childhood joy and spontaneity
with which I once approached
"WHAT'S A FAVORITE PRIVATE JOKE
THAT MAKES YOU SMILE?"