Henri Nouwen on Clowning

Henri Nouwen on Clowning

I met many holy men and women
offering their lives to others with a disarming generosity.
And slowly, I realized that in the great circus of … [Cape Town!],
full of lion tamers and trapeze artists
whose dazzling feats claim our attention,
the real story and true story was told by the clowns.
 
Clowns are not in the centre of the events.
They appear between the great acts, fumble and fall,
and make us smile again after the tensions created by the heroes
we came to admire.
The clowns don’t have it together,
they do not succeed in what they try to do,
they are awkward, out of balance, and left-handed,
but … they are on our side.
We respond to them not with admiration but with sympathy,
not with amazement but with understanding,
not with tension but with a smile.
Of the virtuosi we say,
“How can they do it?”
Of the clowns we say,
“They are like us.”
 
The clowns remind us with a tear and a smile
that we share the same human weakness.