Laughter Comes from the Narrow Places

the parting of the sea

Standing at the shore
Miriam faced the sea to watch the threats and the pain of a million moments prior.
Washed away by the waves,
turning back again toward the uncertainties of tomorrow.
Her stomach tightened,
her throat constricted,
and her heart soared
as one short burst of laughter erupted and a tear slid down her face.
Miriam knew, all too well, that
laughter comes from the narrow places.

Standing by the Nile
Batya turned her head to the skies to watch the clouds churn and eventually settle.
She looked back again at the road, somehow knowing that the chariots would not come from around
the bend.
Her stomach tightened,
her throat constricted,
and her heart ached
as one short burst of laughter erupted, and a tear slid down her face.
Batya, too, knew that
laughter comes from the narrow places.

Sitting in the heavens
God heard the echoes of laughter from the four corners of the earth:
joy, doubt, love, and sorrow pulsated together in the clouds.
It was almost as if the muscles of the universe tightened around God.
She felt more alive than She ever had.
God learned an important lesson that day,
for She now knew that
laughter comes from the narrow places.

 
 
Author’s Note: I wrote this poem as a Midrashic interpretation to accompany our Mi Chamocha prayer, also pulling inspiration from the laughter of Parashat Vayera.  I found myself grappling with both the joy and pain embedded in the prayer and my imagination of this part of the Exodus story.  I thought about the physical experience of laughter – an impulse of our body that happens through the constriction of muscles – and was inspired to relate this physical experience to mitzrayim or “narrow places.”  I do believe that Jewish liturgy can act as a container for both the depths of our hearts and the heights of our elation, so my hope is that this poem helps to create space for the multiplicity of both prayer and laughter.
Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on email
Email

Ritualwell content is available for free thanks to the generous support of readers like you! Please help us continue to offer meaningful content with a donation today. 

Related Rituals

Shop Ritualwell - Discover unique Judaica products

The Reconstructionist Network

Get the latest from Ritualwell

Subscribe for the latest rituals, online learning opportunities, and unique Judaica finds from our store.