A DOCTOR in a city in northern England was at a loss to help a patient he had only just met.
This man, with his ashen countenance, was only 43 years of age and his demeanour reflected his world weary soul.
At last the doctor suggested, “Look Sir, you need to loosen up. You should get out more, have a good laugh, go and see the clown, Joseph Grimaldi, who is in town these days.”
Solemnly the patient replied, “Doctor, I am Grimaldi!” Who was Joseph Grimaldi?
He was the archetypal pantomime clown. He was sufficiently popular in his day to have Charles Dickens as his biographer. His claim to Music Hall fame was simply, Grimaldi produced a whole show. In any show he had ducks flying out of pies, bees flying into bottles and chairs dangling from the ceiling.
And this man, who made the masses laugh, was depressed! He was the classic example of the tears of a clown. Like many of us his public persona of joviality belied his inner emptiness.
How can we, amid the wear and tear of life, arrive at what Wordsworth called, “the dower of inward happiness?”
Firstly let us be at ease with ourselves. Our dreams and realities are often at variance and often our talents cannot deliver our ambitions. The secret is to accept the talents entrusted to us, work to develop them and rest in God’s will and goodness. This conquest of inner space will bring its own rewards.
Secondly, make our peace with God. We are creatures with immortal longings. We cannot live on bread alone. The capacity for fellowship with the Eternal is deep in our psyche and will not be satisfied by accumulation, achievements, prizes or possessions. Only God can fill the human heart.
Making our peace with God is not a dreaded encounter like a naughty schoolboy waiting outside the headmaster’s office, rather this encounter is as a tired child hurrying home to a welcoming parent.
It is really the seeker being already sought. Every prodigal, feeling they must explain why they are rushing home, have never grasped the unconditional love of the waiting father.
This is a picture of the Kingdom. We all assume we are indestructable and unlimited time is guaranteed not to us, but these assumptions are mere wishes.
We only have the present, with no assurance of another day, thus the Gospel call is accurate: Today is the day of Salvation.”
Thirdly seek to enrich society with acts of service. We are social beings and fulfillment comes is giving and receiving. Those who selfishly pursue happiness seldom find it.
Peace and joy are elusive blessings. Joy and pleasure are not suitable goals to pursue, they are by-products of compassion and service. When we forget ourselves and see life as an opportunity acting graciously, then joy and peace, the unlooked for blessings fall into our lap.