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ISSUE No. 30 | February 2023


If you’re new to CULTIVARE we welcome you!  CULTIVARE is a monthly field guide for life and faith, brought to you by TEND.  Each month we explore a specific “field” – a topic or theme through which we seek to cultivate contemplation, engagement, and deeper understanding. Our guiding questions are:

What are you cultivating in your life?

What fruit do you want your life to bear?

Each issue of CULTIVARE is structured into three parts:

Cultivate:  Examines a specific “Field” or facet of life and offers questions to unearth and challenge our held perspective; along with concise kernels of truth which we call “Seeds.”


Irrigate:  Explores the ways we nurture our understanding, which varies from individual to individual. We offer six means of irrigation:  Art, Poetry, Profile, Film, Essay, and Books.


Germinate: Encourages practical ways to engage in becoming more fruitful and free in our lives.  

Our name, CULTIVARE, in Spanish means “I will cultivate.” We hope each issue of our field guide will encourage you to do just that – cultivate new thoughts, actions, faith, hope, and fruitful living.  We invite you to dig in and DIG DEEP!



For we are partners working together for God, and you are God's field.

(I Corinthians 3:9)


Our theme this month is LAUGHTER.  We’ve long desired to do an issue on laughter but the timing didn’t seem right.  We had one planned for last year but then the war in Ukraine broke out, and our hearts were filled with shock and sadness. Reflecting later on the times and topic made us realize that humor and laughter are the first signs of perspective.  Amidst suffering, loss, and bewilderment, it takes courage to move from lament to laughter, to view our lives and times through a lens of hope, healing, and even holiness – to borrow an insight from author Anne Lamott who observed: Laughter is carbonated holiness.    


Following World War II, the most beloved and successful comedians in the US were often Jewish.  Humor was the balm for the horror and loss they had experienced.  Their courage and perspective helped heal a nation and world.  Who else but Mel Brooks could have written the dark film comedy The Producers in 1967?


In reflecting on the book of Genesis, we are reminded how Abraham and Sarah spent decades praying and longing for a child.  When their prayers were finally answered they were, in contemporary terms, living on Social Security and Medicare.  It had to be funny seeing them shop for a stroller and bassinet.  They appropriately named their son – Isaac – Hebrew for “One who laughs.”  Like many events recorded in scripture, the unfolding of very human events, while filled with longing and pain, were also funny when viewed from another perspective.


We acknowledge that the topic of humor is a tricky one, as we all have different funny bones.  What strikes one person as funny may not elicit laughter from another person.  Also, analyzing humor can be counterproductive.  E.B White’s observation rings true here:  Analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog. Few people are interested, and the frog dies of it.


In this issue we celebrate the life of comedian Gilda Radner and her legacy of Gilda’s Club.  We spotlight Chinese freelance photographer Wang Gangfeng and his incredible photos of different generations laughing and smiling. We feature an article from a Harvard’s Medical School professor on the health benefits of laughing.  And we purposefully include a couple films and videos that we hope will make you laugh.


Entertainer Victor Borge wrote that, Laughter is the shortest distance between two people. Our hope and prayer are that in this time often characterized by difference and discord, humor and laughter can be a bridge – a bridge of illumination and love.  W.H. Auden observed: Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can; all of them make me laugh.  Here’s to loving and laughing together! (DG)




And Sarah declared, “God has brought me laughter. All who hear about this will laugh with me.

Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse a baby?

Yet I have given Abraham a son in his old age!”

(Genesis 21:6-7 NLT)


He will yet fill your mouth with laughter

and your lips with shouts of joy.

(Job 8:21 NIV)


A cheerful disposition is good for your health;

gloom and doom leave you bone-tired.

(Proverbs 17:22 MSG)

Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied.

Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.

(Luke 6:21 NIV)



A handful of quotes to contemplate and cultivate into your life


A good laugh heals a lot of hurts. (Madeleine L'Engle)


A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs. It's jolted by every pebble on the road. (Henry Ward Beecher)


If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you.

(George Bernard Shaw)


If you wish to glimpse inside a human soul and get to know a man, don't bother analyzing his ways of being silent, of talking, of weeping, of seeing how much he is moved by noble ideas; you will get better results if you just watch him laugh. If he laughs well, he's a good man. (Fyodor Dostoevsky)


Like a welcome summer rain, humor may suddenly cleanse and cool the earth, the air and you. (Langston Hughes)


Laughter is a form of internal jogging.  It moves your internal organs around.  It enhances respiration.  It is an igniter of great expectations. (Norman Cousins)


An optimist laughs to forget; a pessimist forgets to laugh. (Tom Nansbury)


As soap is to the body, so laughter is to the soul. (A Jewish Proverb)


He who laughs, lasts.  (Mary Pettibone Poole)



Artist of the Month

Wang Gangfeng

By Eugene Kim

As the People's Republic of China's first freelance photographer, Wang Gangfeng 王刚锋 started his illustrious career with a second-hand camera and a roll of expired film.  He draws inspiration from the trauma of growing up during the bloody Cultural Revolution, the seasonal beauty of years spent in agricultural labor, and the wonder and humor of everyday life.  Eighteen of his photos are part of the permanent collection at the renowned Musee de l’Elysee in Switzerland, and he was awarded Top 25 Photographer by Photo Life Magazine. 

Wang's art is inductive and soulful, emerging out of a subject's own repertoire of emotions and aspirations.  His photos capture the vivid colors of laughter, the mirth of camaraderie, and the irony of intersectionality. His subjects are fast asleep, cheating at cards, telling jokes that aren't funny to anyone but oneself, mouths agape while surprised by joy, clowning around with drinking buddies, chasing a loose ball in the streets, and loudly enjoying some sort of amusement, mostly themselves. 


In 2017, I fatefully came upon Wang Gangfeng at an event in Shanghai where his work was displayed. I hired him to photograph our family to preserve the memory of our decade of tentmaking ministry in China. Wang’s Shanghai studio is full of a lifetime's work, illustrious and fabled.  Black and whites interspersed with color, some grainy and analog, others crisp in digital precision.  Like wandering through a neighborhood filled with life, you can get lost in his storied collection of people and places near and far. Wang will offer you a bit of history, a cup of green tea, a mischievous smile, and an opportunity to be captured in the freedom to be yourself.


You can explore more of his photography at his website:  View Now



For Equilibrium, a Blessing

by John O’Donohue


Like the joy of the sea coming home to shore,
May the relief of laughter rinse through your soul.

As the wind loves to call things to dance,
May your gravity by lightened by grace.

Like the dignity of moonlight restoring the earth,
May your thoughts incline with reverence and respect.

As water takes whatever shape it is in,
So free may you be about who you become.

As silence smiles on the other side of what's said,
May your sense of irony bring perspective.

As time remains free of all that it frames,
May your mind stay clear of all it names.

May your prayer of listening deepen enough
to hear in the depths the laughter of God.



Gilda Radner


By Duane Grobman

For those unfamiliar with her, Gilda Radner was a gifted comedian, the first cast member hired on the TV show Saturday Night Live (SNL), and the inspiration behind the cancer ministry called Gilda’s Club.  For those unfamiliar with me, I am a 37-year cancer survivor, my oncologist’s longest living patient, and an individual whose life has been greatly impacted by the life, legacy, and laughter of Gilda. 


I fell in love with Gilda Radner when Saturday Night Live (SNL) first premiered on TV in 1975.  Amongst a talented and zany cast, Gilda was a standout, full of energy, exuberance, excitement, humor, and earnestness.  While Gilda was gifted at parodying celebrities like Barbara Walters, she was best known for creating original characters, such as the bumbling commentator Emily Litella (“nevermind”), brash personal advice guru Roseanne Roseannadanna (“It’s always something”), nerdy Lisa Loopner, and punk rocker Candy Slice.  She won an Emmy for her work on SNL in 1978.  Critics hailed her as the next Lucille Ball. In 1980, she left SNL to begin a film career, falling in love at first sight with actor and comedian Gene Wilder on the set of Hanky Panky in 1982 and marrying him in 1984.


The year 1984 proved to be a memorable year for me, as I was diagnosed with an advance stage of cancer.  Through my cancer psychotherapist Donna, I learned of the book Anatomy of an Illness by Norman Cousins, which tells the story of how Cousins overcame a life-threatening illness, in part, by immersing himself with humor and laughter.  Reading Cousins’ book prompted me to purchase my first VCR to play film comedies when I was recovering from chemotherapy. Battling severe nausea, the films lifted my spirits.  It was Donna who also introduced me to the work of Harold Benjamin, founder of The Wellness Center in Santa Monica, California.  For those unfamiliar with it, TWC provides support and education to people with cancer and those who care for them.  They also conduct research to quantify and document the benefits of psychosocial support for people with cancer.  Among the offerings of TWC were Joke Fests where members gathered to share jokes and to experience the healing power of laughter and humor.  My friends learned of this and organized Happy Club to encourage me in my journey with cancer.  It was a life-giving and life-changing experience.


Gilda Radner became ill in 1985 but was not accurately diagnosed with Ovarian cancer until the following year.  The disease would eventually claim her life in 1989.  She participated in TWC events during her illness and was known as being a light and spark of hope to the many who interacted with her.  Cancer may have weakened her body, but her indomitable spirit and humor remained strong.  She published her autobiography, It’s Always Something (a line she made famous through her character Roseanne Roseannadanna), weeks after her passing. 


Two years later, in 1991, Radner’s husband Gene Wilder and her cancer psychotherapist Joanna Bull, founded Gilda’s Club, a network of affiliated clubhouses where people living with cancer, their friends, and their families can meet to learn how to live with cancer, often through the exercising of humor and laughter.  In 2009 Gilda’s Club merged with The Wellness Center.  There are more than 20 Gilda’s Clubs active today.  The clubs serve as a legacy to her life and laughter, her hope, and the healing power of humor.  As the adage says, “Laughter is the best medicine.”  A valuable truth to remember, particularly when our lives are marked by it’s always something! (DG)


To learn more about the legacy of Gilda Radner explore the following links:


Gilda Fest:  View Now


Love, Gilda documentary movie trailer:  View Now



Each month we recommend films focused on our theme

Feature Film

Our Top 25 Favorite Comedies

When it comes to movies that made us laugh, we couldn’t agree on one single film to recommend, so we put our heads together and compiled a Top 25 List of our favorite comedies.  Some on our list will no doubt be familiar to you, but we’re hoping there’s at least one new one to watch.  Review the list, and let a desire to rewatch one of your favorites bubble up.

  • A Fish Called Wanda (1988)                 

  • Best in Show (2000)                  

  • Beverly Hills Cop (1984)

  • Blazing Saddles (1974)                          

  • Coming to America (1988)             

  • Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

  • Groundhog Day (1993)                          

  • Harvey (1950)                          

  • Home Alone (1990)

  • Jojo Rabbit (2019)                                

  • Little Miss Sunshine (2006)             

  • Lost in America (1985)      

  • Midnight Run (1988)                

  • Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)

  • Monty Python And The Holy Grail (1975)        

  • Moonstruck (1987)    

  • My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)               

  • Royal Tenenbaums (2001)         

  • The Lego Batman Movie (2017)              

  • The Princess Bride (1987)           

  • This is Spinal Tap (1984)

  • Thor: Ragnarok (2017)                        

  • Tootsie (1982)                           

  • What’s Up, Doc? (1972)

  • Young Frankenstein (1974)

Documentary Film

Hollywood: The Gift of Laughter

A retrospective look at 60 years of great moments in film comedy, from the 1920s to the 1980s.  Directed by Jack Haley Jr.  Cohosted by Carol Burnett, Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Burt Reynolds, Dom DeLuise, and Richard Pryor. Available on various streaming services.

View Now

Short Film

Just For Laughs - Best of 2020

(15 minutes)

Just for Laughs is a Canadian hidden camera reality TV show created by Pierre Girard and Jacques Chevalier.  The series uses a hidden camera format, playing pranks on unsuspecting subjects while hidden cameras capture the subjects’ responses.  This featured collection highlights their Top Ten pranks from the year 2020, a year most of us found extremely challenging due to the pandemic and other events.  Watch this collection for a good laugh!

View Now



TED Talk

Why Great Leaders Take Humor Seriously:

Jennifer Aaker & Naomi Bagdonas

(10 Minutes)

There's a mistaken belief in today's working world that leaders need to be serious all the time to be taken seriously. The research tells a different story. Based on the course they teach at Stanford's Graduate School of Business, behavioral scientist Jennifer Aaker and corporate strategist Naomi Bagdonas delve into the surprising power of humor: why it's a secret weapon to build bonds, power, creativity and resilience -- and how we can all have more of it.

View Now



A Laugh a Day Keeps the Doctor Away?
By Alvin Powell 

Feeling funny?  Natalie Dattilo says that’s a good thing.


The former director of psychology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, says laughter has a lot going for it. It makes us feel good, brings people closer together, lightens a workplace, and even, Dattilo has found in her practice, helps those with depression manage their condition.

“Health care is expensive,” said Dattilo, an instructor of psychology in Harvard Medical School’s Psychiatry Department. “If we can find a tool that is as simple as laughter, that is free for the most part, with no side effects and has no contraindications, that would be really great.”

To read the entire article, found in the Harvard Gazette, click on the following link: 

View Now



Each month we recommend a book (or two) focused on our theme

Between Heaven and Mirth:

Why Joy, Humor, and Laughter Are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life

By James Martin

Martin shares how you can strike a healthy balance between spirituality and daily life and live as a joyful believer. In Between Heaven and Mirth, he uses scriptural passages, the lives of the saints, the spiritual teachings of other traditions, and his own personal reflections to show us why joy is the inevitable result of faith, because a healthy spirituality and a healthy sense of humor go hand-in-hand with God's great plan for humankind. 

View Now

Children's Book

Children's Letters to God

by Stuart Hample and Eric Marshall

Here is the unassuming little book that charmed its way up the bestseller lists and now has over 1.2 million copies in print. This third edition of Children’s Letters to God reveals again the surprising pleasures and provocations of what happens when kids decide to send a letter off to their Maker. Whether posing a question, begging a favor, or expressing doubt or joy, these letters are notable for their refreshing directness, unexpected humor, and startling clarity of thought. It’s like seeing the world through a child’s bright eyes untouched by cynicism, brimming with innocence, wonder, and curiosity.

View Now



Practical suggestions to help you go deeper into our theme


Devote some time and thought to these reflective questions on our theme:

1.   What’s makes you laugh and why?

2.   When was the last time you belly laughed hard?  What prompted it?

3.   What person in your life makes you laugh the most and why?

4.   What is one little thing in your life that immediately makes you smile?

5.   What funny things would be included on your life’s gag reel?

6.   What’s the funniest commercial you’ve watched, and why was it so amusing?




Unless you've been living under a rock, you'll have heard or seen a meme online. But why are they so popular? This article offers seven reasons we love them.

View Now 



3.     HUMOR IS A FORM OF HOPE – On Being

In this interview with author Terry McMillan, she states: I don’t think that humor is a way of pretending that something isn’t happening. I don’t think it’s evasive at all. On some levels, I think it’s a safety net. And it’s how we also protect our hearts from just bleeding to death.

View Now




The month of February gives us three special days of celebration:  Groundhog Day, Valentine’s Day, and Presidents’ Day.  We highlight Valentine’s Day by spotlighting the “Kiss Cam” used in many professional sporting arenas. 

View Now




Lord of All,

You came to bring us grace.

You lived and breathed as one of us.

You know how we can be filled with laughter;

The sounds of joy and pure enjoyment.

In a world filled with every reason for sadness and depression,

Remind us how to laugh, to see the hope we have in you.

As people of redemption, we need the catharsis of laughter,

And the relief of humor.

Open our mouths for more than questions or condemnation,

But let our laughter rise to the heavens.

Purify our being through the release of tension, and congeniality.

Let us praise you.

Let us be joyful.

Let us laugh.

In love and gratitude,


dig deeper


But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,

whose confidence is in him.

They will be like a tree planted by the water

that sends out its roots by the stream.

It does not fear when heat comes;

its leaves are always green.

It has no worries in a year of drought

and never fails to bear fruit.

(Jeremiah 17:7-8 NIV)


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Images used in order of appearance:

1.   FIELD:   I Love Lucy, CBS, 1951-1957



2.  SEEDS:  John Brown, A Squirrel in a Feeding Box, Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards, 2015



3.  ART:  Wang Gangfeng, Photographer.



4.  POETRY:  Atlanta History Center, Juneteenth Celebrations



5.   PROFILE:   Saturday Night Live, NBC, 1975-1979.



6.   FILM:  Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Apatow Productions, DreamWorks Pictures, 2004



7.   ESSAY:  The Princess Bride, Act III Communications, Buttercup Films, The Princess Bride Ltd., 20th Century Fox (United States, Interaccess Film Distribution (International),1987



8.   BOOKS:  Elliott Erwitt, USA, New York City, 2000



9.   DIG DEEPER:  Groundhog Day, Columbia Pictures, 1993



10.   ROOTED:   Bee Two Sweet, Fun Hora Dance

TEAM CULTIVARE: :  Duane Grobman (Editor), Elizabeth Bolsinger, Amy Drennan, Greg Ehlert, Bonnie Fearer, Ben Hunter, Eugene Kim, Nick Kinnier, Andrew Massey, Rita McIntosh, Jason Miller, Heather Shackelford, Jason Pearson (Design:



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