By Rev. Nate Walker of the First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia
Tripping over one another three grieving clowns stumbled up the hillside.
The first clown wailed and bemoaned and used his glistening trophies to collect his tears. “Look at my pain,” he’d cry. “I’ve earned so many trophies of tears.” He blubbered, “I’m the King of Despair.” The trophies hung from the bar that spread over the back of his neck, as if he was a nineteenth century farm boy delivering milk. Every once in a while he’d clumsily fall and the tears would spill from the trophies. In those moments, he would verbosely lament, “My trophies, my trophies must hold more tears: proof of my pain!”
The second clown, a ballerina, stoically faced the horizon. Not even the warm light reflecting off the amber clouds could reveal her invisible tears. The inconspicuous water could not be seen running down her cheek, nor down the lacy ruffles; by the time they reached her ankle the tears began to collect in her pointe shoes made of glass. Even though trying to appear weightless, the legs of the ballerina clown moved like stilts. The only sign of her grief was found in her pristine slippers that were overflowing with salty water, leaving a trail of tears.
The third clown, with many colorful orbs hovering around her, had the deepest of frowns. As a tear would fall down her cheek she’d catch it with her tongue and blow the tear into the air while making a wish. The tear would transform into an expansive luminescent sphere. It floated among the others while memories of her delightful past danced within each orb. These images tickled her frown. Soon enough her grin lifted each side of her lips while her eyes gleamed with the joy of remembering.
What’s the moral of this story?
The first clown with trophies of tears mistook his pain for pride and therefore collected his pain as if mourning was a prize worthy of boasting.
The second clown with invisible tears mistook her grief for stoicism and therefore denied her sorrow as if bereavement was an errand and not an art form.
The third clown, however, knew her true nature: she was a clown – clowns have the innate gift of transforming sorrow into silliness, the past into the present, and mourning into memories.
What kind of clown are you?