I’m still trying to work through thoughts about the spirituality of clowning, and more specifically, I suppose, the impact of clowning on my own sense of who I am before God, and today more reflections on divine comedy hit me between the eyes, leading me off in another direction.
Mary’s blog (and if ever there were a misnamed blog, it’s this one: raid on the inarticulate? hardly! though I suppose her pauses between blogging bouts might occasionally justify the title) points us to an article on Ship of Fools by her equally articulate vicar, which includes these words
“Comedy lies in the gaps between what we ought to be, what we are, and what we just might be one day. Comic timing relies on eternity being written into the heart of man, and man knowing the absurd shortfall: bathos – the lapse from sublime to ridiculous – is thus a part of the comedian's stock-in-trade. In the biblical story, though, God appears to fool around with this familiar routine in the person of Jesus, whose resurrection rewrites the joke about the bloke who's alive, but then dies. The timing seems to be all over the place, but, for those who get it (and Christianity is a gag that plenty don't), the divine punchline makes sense of everything that went before. Moreover, it allows them to fool around with their time and place, too, until Kingdom come”
I’ve spent many long hours exploring a theology of gaps…and lamenting the way that I tend to fall into the ugly ditch that exists between the reality of the person I am, and the aspiration of the person I long to be. Perhaps unsurprisingly, awareness of this has become all the more acute since ordination, since I’m also experiencing the projections of others, and their assumptions about the effect of priesthood on personality. There have been times when I’ve felt myself more gap than substance, and have clung onto the words in the Ordinal
“you cannot bear the weight of this…in your own strength but only by the grace and power of God…” and the assurance "My grace is sufficient for you; my strength is made perfect in weakness."
I suspect that those who have been high achievers are always challenged by this need to abandon being successful through their own abilities, or indeed being "successful" at all….and I found myself just then writing “I’m gradually improving at this”…as if, once again, it was a skill to be mastered, a goal to be reached through effort or application.
That’s when I heard the laughter, and was blessed to remember again that it is in the gaps that God not only works his transformation, but allows space for humour. It is, after all, ridiculous that a middle-aged mother in Cheltenham should presume to speak God’s forgiveness to a hurting community….as ridiculous as the idea that the Creator of everything should choose to come and meet His creatures in a fragment of bread, a sip of wine…