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In Vulnerability, Take Risks

142. In Vulnerability, Take Risks

I found when I was going to clown workshops that it wasn’t easy for me to be a clown. For one thing I got comparative, convinced that others were better clowns than I was. But also there’s something mysterious about becoming another being (even a clown being). There is something transforming and very risky about putting on the white face and seeing Ann disappear.

As I did this once at the nursing home, putting on the white-face makeup in front of residents, one woman with a look of aching on her face, said to me “Oh—could I get in there too?” All that was on my face was the white—a total white face. I looked in the mirror and then at her, and said, “Oh Martha, I can hardly be in here myself.”

In the beginning of the clown movement within many of the churches, there was a process of learning how to make-up and create your distinctive clown face, and then learn a few things like juggling, and then go out to a regular place in the community as a non-speaking clown and do kind, fun, and loving things. The following day after sharing about those experiences, the assignment was to go out into the community and do the same type of kind, fun, and loving things—just in regular clothes. Guess which was harder?

In the midst of the vulnerability, somehow you decide to take risks. And for me, that’s been true in so many instances. I have gone into a woman’s prison, I have sung solos, I have dared to preach in churches, I have led a dance group, I have gone into a bank with a puppet who looks alive. And in all those instances, I was nervous and vulnerable. I usually asked myself (and still do) —what’s the worst thing that can happen?— and if I can live with that, I just go ahead, take the risk, and do it.

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