John Mostoller was known as “Percy” the Clown. John and I became yoked together many years ago through the Yokefellow Movement. We shared so much together and I miss him these days. We were both concerned about those incarcerated and worked together in the Yokefellow Prison Ministry. John’s family were “circus people” and John continued that heritage by becoming “Percy” the Clown. He used his “clowning” to deliver his message and his “act” made that message come alive to his audiences.
Percy the Clown always ended his “act” with this prayer:
“Lord, as I stumble through this life, help me create more laughter than tears, dispense more happiness than gloom, spread more cheer than despair. Never let me grow so big that I will fail to see the wonder in the eyes of a child, or the twinkle in the eyes of the aged. Never let me forget that I am a clown, that my work is to cheer people up, make them happy, and make them laugh, make them forget momentarily all the unpleasant things in their lives. Never let me acquire success to the point where I will discontinue calling upon my Creator in the hour of need, or acknowledging and thanking him in the hour of plenty. And in my final moment, may I hear you whisper: ‘When you made MY people smile, you made ME smile.’” (Percy)
Many years ago, I encouraged one of my parishioners to go to a “Clown Seminar” and use her “clowning” as John used Percy to deliver her particular message. Later, she gave me a photo of herself in her clown garb. On the photo she wrote, “Hal, keep the clown in you alive!”
“Never let me forget,” Percy prayed, “that I am a clown.” I’ve often forgotten the “clown” in me.” How about you? Aren’t we all clowns to some degree and haven’t we all buried the clown within us by our seriousness, self-importance, and religiosity (in whatever form)? Maybe if we kept the Clown alive in us we wouldn’t be embarrassed when we acted the “buffoon!” Instead of being embarrassed by our buffoonery we’d laugh at ourselves as every authentic clown does. Wouldn’t that be a freeing moment—to laugh and laugh and laugh at our own silliness and foolishness? Some might say that we have enough clowns around without adding more. The truth of the matter is that we are all clowns and we are all needed in this world! Percy knew this and prayed, “…as I stumble through this life, help me create more laughter than tears, dispense more happiness than gloom, spread more cheer than despair.”