I am combining days 17 and 18 of the Spiritual Badass 30-Day Blog Challenge because I had a very full weekend of fun. I was barely near a computer so I didn’t get a chance to write yesterday, but yesterday’s question “How do I use my spiritual gifts to change lives and make a difference” kind of ties in with “What do I do for fun/how do I incorporate fun in my daily life?” One of my greatest spiritual gifts is the gift of FUN. Having it, making it, noticing it, and spreading it.
I met someone last year who said something very unusual to me, he introduced himself and asked my name and then said, “So, how would you describe yourself?” It took me aback a second and then I said, “I am a Holy Clown.” and explained, “I am deeply spiritual but I don’t take myself or Life too seriously, and I love to laugh.” Sometimes the truth is shocked out of me.
One of the things that bummed me out about organized religion and the giant role it played in my life as a child (Church/Sunday School every Sunday, parochial school -which included religion class and Chapel every Wednesday – not to mention “Little Visits With God” Devotions every night after dinner for years until my siblings and I staged an uprising) was how SERIOUS it was. Damnation, Salvation – and we had to be on our VERY best behavior in church. It was unbearable for me as a child. Naturally, I got in trouble a lot, usually for joking around in the children’s choir, which only reinforced the SERIOUSNESS of everything. God seriously scared me, because I was too sinful and silly for Him to love, I thought.
Fast forward several decades to the mid-90’s, when I got clean and sober. My spiritual path had taken many twists and turns, and the last thing I thought I’d ever have was a born-again Christian/Baptist sponsor in my 12 step program. But I did (still do), and he has taught me that God made me in His/Her image, so God might be a very creative WISEASS with a big heart who likes to have a good time. Just opening my mind to the possibility that perhaps my idea of who God is wasn’t about the truth of who God actually is and instead were the old people in my church and my Mom’s idea of who God is…that allowed the light in and I was able to let go of a lot of my hardheartedness towards God and religion in general. I still don’t indulge in organized religion but I don’t have a knee-jerk RECOIL to it anymore.
One of the greatest things I learned in recovery is to “wear life like a loose cloak”…to be flexible, go with the flow, and yes, laugh at myself. Why not, being human is HILARIOUS -we’re all ridiculously sublime and sublimely ridiculous. My sense of humor has saved my life on multiple occasions, it’s an excellent defense mechanism and being able to see the absurd in almost anything can make even the deepest depressions kind of bearable and keep a flicker of hope alive. I have bonded with my friends because of humor and I’m not bragging on myself when I say that I’ve been told on more than one occasion that it’s not a real party until *I* get there…and I’m not even drinking anymore.
I’ve used humor in my parenting to make chores seem fun, to make waiting less boring and to help ME accept the quirks of both of my kids so I can correct misbehavior without trying to change the nature of who they are. I also like to use humor when doing readings to make them both informative AND fun. Just because something is spiritual doesn’t mean that it has to be so deadly serious, spirituality is part of life, and life can be fun, if we want it to be! Because you see, it’s UP TO US to make our own fun. Finding fun is a matter of perspective. Having fun doesn’t come from outside ourselves, it’s gotta come from within. If we’re not willing to drop our guard and look foolish or have a sense of wonder, it’s going to get grim out there pretty quickly.
So back to the Holy Clown thing – what is the purpose of clowns in the circus (besides TERRIFYING PEOPLE WELL INTO ADULTHOOD) ? Clowns entertain and get the audience excited – they distract them from the ring where they’re setting up the next act. Most importantly, after all the tension of high wire acrobatics or wild animal tamers that keep the audience on the edge of their seat, the clowns help them release that tension with laughter and get them to relax.
So too, in Life, those of us who are quick to laugh and joke around distract others from the hard stuff (for a little while) and diffuse the tension around us, and create comfort in camaraderie. If that’s not spiritual work, I don’t know what is.
That said, I don’t INTENTIONALLY **try** to cheer people up. Some things are too heavy to be diffused with a wisecrack. I am not afraid of powerful feelings like grief or anger and sometimes I find the best thing to do is to not try to sweep someone’s intense feelings under the rug, but to sit with them and just listen or at least validate their feelings with empathy. Using humor to push real feelings away doesn’t help anybody.
So how is having fun and laughing going to change the world or make a difference? I always liked the starfish story. Maybe I can’t change the world all at once, but one person at time is a good start.