Clowning in Rome (Henri Nouwen)

« … slowly, I realized that in the great circus of Rome, 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 center of events. They appear between the great acts, fumble and fall, and make us smile again after the tension 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 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. … a powerful image to help us understand the role of those who choose to care and minister in contemporary society. » (Henri Nouwen ; Clowning in Rome : Reflection on Solitude, Celibacy, Prayer and Contemplation ; Doubleday, New York 1979, p.3)

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