Class Clown

“I saw this and thought of you, Paul.”

The words accompanied a post on my Facebook wall.  It happens frequently these days.  One would expect, wouldn’t one?, that the post would be some piece of insightful wisdom or some profound truth tailor-made for exegesis in these essays.

Well?  That is what I should find, is it not?

Alas, the answer to that question is inevitably negative.  Again and again, the post I see is a pun, or a photographic play on words, perhaps even a page full of pun-fully (and possibly, painfully) silly witticisms, suitable for short quips and insertion into conversation at odd times.  I am, it seems, well-known for such drolleries, having made a habit of posting many for the amusement (or disgust) of my friends.

It occurred to me the other day that some things never change.  I know I have told you that all of life is one change after another, suggesting that we should give in to the inescapable fact that nothing stays the same.  In some sense, it seems, I may have led you astray.

I have spent a lifetime as the class clown, my claim to fame seeing to the entertainment of those around me.  I haven’t always been successful at the task, but I keep trying.  I’m aware that more than a few of my attempts at humor have been more annoying than amusing, but that hasn’t stopped me from making the effort.

It is only in the last few years that I have begun to recognize where this desire to make people laugh comes from.  It’s not something I like to think about.  I’m even a little reticent to speak of it.

Even so, I have confessed before to this need that I have–this desire to be noticed by others.  I don’t like for the parade to be passing me by; I want to be a clown in it.  Funny thing, we all have this same need built into us, from the most extroverted right on down to the most shrinking of violets that exists.

We need to know that we matter, that other people see us.  I mean, really see us.

I was walking across the parking lot at church one day recently.  A friend approached, her face lighting up as she walked toward me.  I smiled in return, gratified that she was happy to see me.  As I began to voice a greeting, she spoke excitedly to the lady walking behind me.

“I’m so sorry I missed you the other afternoon!  I hoped you would be here today.”  My face must have given away my chagrin at thinking the welcome was for me.  “Oh, I’m sorry, Paul.  I didn’t see you there.  How are you today?”

I recovered and greeted her, moving off quickly to allow the two ladies time to visit.  It also gave me time to tend to my bruised ego.

I want to be seen!  I want to be the person being greeted effusively, the one for whom the welcome bubbles up from the heart.  Oh, don’t get me wrong.  Often, it is.  I don’t think I’m invisible, nor do I want for people who enjoy my company.  It’s simply that–well,I always hope for more–just a little bit more.

I could go on.  There are people who feel invisible.  I know of folks who actually are invisible to most of us.  They want to be seen, too.  They want to be seen as humans, not as homeless or poor.  They want to be seen as loved, not as castoffs in a nursing home waiting to die.  They want to be seen as important, not as ignorant and uneducated.

We all, every one of us, want–no, more than that–we need to be seen.

Funny.  This time of year, this season of anticipation, is about exactly that.  The whole of humanity has spent all their lives being clowns, acting out in order to be noticed by a Creator who actually never stopped noticing them.

Christmas is about a God who sees us.

He didn’t look past the homeless, the poor, the aged, and the handicapped to the wealthy and beautiful, or the powerful and brilliant.  He looked at each one of us.

Right directly at me.  At you.

And, He said, “I’ve got news for you!  It’s great news of incredible joy for every single one of you!”  I’m pretty sure that it was no accident that those words were said to the poor sheep tenders who had the night shift.  These people were used to being overlooked.  They expected it.  They were not educated.  They were not wealthy.  They had no power.  They were the lowest of the low in Jewish society, not even recognized as responsible legal witnesses in their court system.

But, on that night they knew, beyond a doubt, that He saw them.  With no jumping up and down, no screaming fits, and no comedy routines He looked at them, and at us, and said,  “For you–the gift of a Savior–because I see you, and I love you.”

He sees me!  He sees you!  How great our joy!

I’ll continue to pepper my friends with puns; they’re nothing to sneeze at.  But, I’ll no longer do it to be sure I’m seen.  I know that we’re made to laugh and enjoy life and it’s my contribution to the process.

Perhaps, just once in awhile, someone could send me a thoughtful and intellectual quote, too.

Even clowns have feelings, you know.

The Little Boy and the Old Man

Said the little boy, “Sometimes I drop my spoon.”
Said the old man, “I do that too.”
The little boy whispered, “I wet my pants.”
“I do that too,” laughed the little old man.
Said the little boy, “I often cry.”
The old man nodded, “So do I.”
“But worst of all,” said the boy, “It seems
Grown-ups don’t pay attention to me.”
And he felt the warmth of a wrinkled old hand.
“I know what you mean,” said the little old man.”
(Shel Silverstein ~ American poet ~ 1930-1999)

“And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
(Luke 2:10,11 ~ ESV)

© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2013. All Rights Reserved.

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