Here’s a third thing about clowns: They’re foolish. It’s a bit iffy to portray God as foolish, right? Well, let’s take a look at that. The medieval court jester’s antics amused crowds at regal gatherings. But the jester had a second vocation: he alone was allowed to speak truth to the king without fear of reprisal. I think the art of stand-up comedy, at least when that comedy speaks hard truths, descends from the vocation of the medieval court jester. Painful truths go down easier with a spoonful of humor.
Plus, what do clowns do? Make fools of themselves. Literally. Whether they’ve cavorting around the ring in enormous pants, being chased by a bull, or throwing a bucketful of confetti into the crowd, they’re just unabashedly goofy. Right out in the open. In them we see ourselves: not the “put-together” image we present to the world, but our whole selves, complete with our inadequacies, our awkwardness, our confusion, our doubts. And we find, smiling at the clown’s bumbling, that those very things can be endearing, even loveable. Clowns invite us to love the whole of ourselves, even the stuff we hide beneath our greasepaint.
And clowns make magic. With their over-the-top wardrobes and wild antics, they delight and entrance. Clowns transport us to a place in which we are free enough to laugh aloud in delight rather than in derision. And, despite her costumed and grease-painted hiddenness, we know that the magicked world the clown creates is the one for which we yearn, because the clown’s world is more powerfully real than any status-quo security. In this world of deepest magic, we can be, at last, who we really are. And so we follow the clown, grease paint and all.
Which brings me to the Clown of my books. Following a Clown—that’s really foolish, right? At least to those who see that Clown as a mere buffoon. And yet there’s an unseen wisdom to our followship, because we are choosing to live in a joy-filled reality that erupts from time to time into the bland status quo, and we can be part of making that happen. To live for anything less is, well, just foolish.
So I hope my readers will see that “creepy” is not in a clown’s true nature, that clowns serve as holy metaphors, because their outward goofiness opens us to an earth-shattering wisdom hidden beneath the greasepaint—that we are loved just as we are, and that God intends to delight us, and to delight in us, for eternity.