Clowning in Rome – Reflections on Solitude, Celibacy, Prayer and Contemplation


Clowning in Rome – Reflections on Solitude, Celibacy, Prayer and Contemplation (By: Henri J. M. Nouwen)

Our cultures have pretty much put aside the values of solitude, celibacy, prayer and contemplation. As a result, we experience emptiness in our hearts and our relationships. Clowning in Rome will perhaps inspire us to risk to be touched by those in our homes and on our streets that we would rather put aside and forget. The homeless, belligerent, rejected, violent, lost, uncooperative, and vulnerable people are the prophets of today beckoning us to become clowns in the circus of life, where we foolishly squander our enormous energies of love and generosity. -Foreword (xviii)

… I [slowly] realized that in the great circus of [life], full of lion tamers and trapeze artists whose dazzling feats claim our attention, the real 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. -page 3.

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