The Swinging Lamp, Humor and Hope

My brother would have been 44 years old today. I wasn’t expecting that it would be a tough day (Frits passed away in 2003), but I guess these things have a way of sneaking up on you.

Frits had a great sense of humor. In his honor, I’ll share one of our family’s favorite stories (this happened in a farm house in Ikast, Denmark, where we lived when I was born). In Frits’ words:

“The fireplace room used to be a horse stable before my dad and a friend converted it into a living area.  I don’t remember what it looked like before or even during the conversion except for a story that I was told.  My mom helped with the bricks for the floor — or something that entailed sitting on the floor.  Well, once, she stood up only to clobber herself with a hanging lamp.  Only trouble was she stood there so long it hit her again on the return swing!  So she ducked down holding her head for a second.  But the lamp was going to get her again, and indeed she stood up just in time to get clobbered a third time!!  She couldn’t keep from laughing like she does — tears streaming down her face and snorting.  It makes me chuckle just thinking about it.”

Thankfully my mom has a great sense of humor too!

You might wonder what this has to do with major giving. I might need to be a little creative to make a connection (but I’ve been taking notes from expert Marc Pitman, so I’ll give it a shot).

This morning I attended a ‘free ask event’ (for our local Red Cross Chapter, following the Benevon model) here in Louisville. I’ll admit, it brought me to tears the requisite number of times (even though I knew it was coming). The story about the ‘Miracle on the Hudson’ as told by one of the passengers really struck me. A well-timed joke in his presentation helped to break the intensity. Our laughter certainly wasn’t making light of the situation, but it did help us to get back to the moment.

Many of the issues we are helping to raise money for are intense, but if we only present hopelessness and despair, it’s hard for our financial partners (ie donors) to see past that. Appropriate humor can help draw us back – to the hope that our organizations represents for those we serve.

I hope you have a hope-filled day!

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