Acting a Fool

The Venerable Max Woolaver

A very serious decision was called for … and quickly.

I was hurtling down a steep well-polished bannister, side-saddle, over steep marble stairs.

Only seconds before, in the hotel lobby, I had shouted to my friends, “Hey! Watch this!”

I then leapt onto the bannister—a cowboy clown in a circus.

The general shock and disbelief on the faces of those around me was just the reaction I was hoping for. This sort of thing was not usually done at a diocesan synod.

In less than five seconds the shock and disbelief were all mine. Sir Isaac Newton would have been proud to see at least three of his laws of motion playing out impeccably. It was the second of those laws that seized my mind with a violently mushrooming apprehension: the force of an object is equal to its mass times its acceleration. And I had just eaten lunch. My mass was at its peak.

Accelerating at beard bending speed, I knew I had to leap into Newton’s boundless but strict universe.

As I hit the stairs my loose-fitting Birkenstocks flew off in silent, slow motion … now fragments from a disintegrating satellite; my arms were folded up and behind my back by the immutable forces which command deep space; I was blown across the stairs with the force of solar wind (800,000 to 5 million mph to be exact). My body came to a crimpling (not a typo), humiliating stop. 

Laughter erupted from the top of the stairs while I made a silent, invisible inventory of my extremities. I ignored the weirdness telegraphed from my shoulder blades. I took my bow.

Let us leave this madness and proceed to why I have befuddled you with this portrait of idiocy.

It is quite simple: If this madman was willing to risk life and limb simply to entertain, is entertaining a serious Lenten discipline so difficult?

Is there an aspect of your ‘inner’ life that you have, for fear, not yet turned toward? Is there an element of your day to day life that you have delayed bringing into your walk with Christ? Are there areas of inner challenge which seem to block your deep desire to live a freer life?

Or perhaps there are ‘outer’ challenges you have always wanted to explore? Have you ever given a hungry person food? Have you ever sat with someone in the waiting room of a social assistance office? Have you ever written an Amnesty International letter? Have you ever looked at Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund material and wondered how you might help? Have you dared to read ‘The Uninhabitable World’?

While I was thinking about all this, I remembered a conversation I had a few years ago with a really fine young man in his mid-twenties. He told me that it was easier for him to tell his friends that he was clinically depressed than it was to tell them he had begun a life of faith in Christ. I wonder what you could do to help your church help folks like him?

So, this Lent why not be a Fool for Christ instead of just a fool. Step out. Ask a question. Say hello —to your ‘inner self’; say hello to your ‘outer’ self; do some reading; stay in silence with what you have read; find out about holy reading (lectio divina); ask God to guide you, to lead you … trust what Jesus trusted; love what St. Francis loved; take yourself seriously— God does.

And don’t jump on long steep, highly polished bannisters – you won’t enjoy what comes next.