Mueller: Choosing to ‘pray, grunt and giggle’ in life

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By Bob Mueller

I love words and catchy phrases. I especially like the following letter from a man named Robert Pirosh applying for a job requiring verbal skills.

“Gentlemen, I like fat, buttery words such as ooze, turpitude, glutinous and toady. I like solemn, angular, creaky words such as strait-laced, cantankerous, penurious and valedictory. I like spurious, gold-plated, black-and-white words such as gentlefolk, mortician, freelancer or mistress. I like suave “V” words as Svengali, svelte, bravura and verve. I like crunchy, brittle, crackly words such as splinter, grapple, jostle and crusty. I like sullen, crabbed, scowling words such as skulk, glower, scabby and churl. I like Oh-heavens, my-gracious, land’s-sake words such as tricky, tucker, genteel and horrid. I like pretty-pretty, flowered endimanche words such as elegant, halcyon, Elysium and artiste. I like wormy, squirmy, mealy words such as crawl, blubber, squeal and drip. I like sniggly, chuckling words such as cowlick, gurgle, bubble and burp. I like words. May I have a few with you?”

I asked a woman in her 90’s named Margaret recently what her secret of life was and she had a terrific phrase. She said you have to “pray, grunt and giggle.” I like her phrase much better than the popular “eat, pray, love.” Margaret is so right.

Pray – I can’t imagine a day without prayer. I open and close each day with prayer. Prayer is the relationship between each person and their Higher Power. We cannot approach prayer as we do everything else in our instant gratification society. There are no prayer pills or enlightenment capsules.

Any relationship is a process, not a momentary event with an instantaneous outcome. It builds with repeated contact and dialogue. With give and take, prayer is our honesty encountering God and our openness hearing God expressed on God’s terms. Like any relationship, prayer includes all our feelings – anger, fear and mistrust, as well as generosity, goodwill and gratitude. Gradually, we see the events of our lives through the wisdom and detachment our spiritual relationship provides.

Grunt – How can we measure all the pain and grief we feel, and how can we put up with it? Doesn’t the grief of death weigh a ton or more? Doesn’t it stretch out to a month, a year, or longer still? Is the grief of failure lighter than the grief of despair, but maybe longer? Isn’t the grief of emptiness the heaviest of all? Whether we try to ignore or make light of it, our grief, like a ton of feathers or a ton of rocks, is all the same to us. We need to grunt. Grief shared is grief spared. If we lock our grief in, it will weigh more on us and lengthen out. If we open our hearts with grunting, weeping and words, others will help carry it away.

Giggle – Comedy is a gift of the human spirit. Sometimes it is the only weapon we have against official absurdity. When I die and anyone thinks about it, rather than a moment of silence, I’d much prefer a moment of giggle and laughter.

Sharing play is sometimes the only way we can touch another human being. Let us be grateful for the gift of true humor wherever we encounter it. It gives us strength to continue. As Oscar Wilde said, “Life is too important to be taken seriously.” Phyllis Diller adds, “A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.”

Sometimes the current spirituality scene or the quest for meaning in self-help books can be overwhelming. Sometimes it’s refreshing to have a simple formula for your soul like “Pray, Grunt & Giggle.” Thanks again, Margaret.

Bob Mueller is the senior director of mission and stewardship at Hosparus. The views in this column are those of the writer.