Once upon a time, there was a lovely clown. One of these
good, cheerful clowns with a big, red nose, with wide, colourful trousers around his legs
and with a small, brown violin in his hands. On his face, he always had a big, warm smile.
He lived and worked in a circus. Not a big circus, and
not a small circus. But a circus and a clown loved by the people, especially the young
Times were not always easy for this circus. There were
times of recession and economical disaster. There were times when governments changed
their financial policies, and circuses no longer got public grants. Sometimes the clown
was afraid the circus would no longer be able to have its own tent, or even some artists
might have to be sent away. What would happen to the people then?
He knew that circuses and clowns are needed. The clown,
for many people in the towns around, was a symbol of hope and joy and humanity. Hope, joy
and humanity in the middle of a not always easy everyday-life. A life in which the
strongest and the best and the fittest succeeded. But people know that not everybody is
the strongest, and the best, and the fittest.
The clown showed them what really counted in life. He
showed them that you can love and be loved, even if you are weak, even if you fall on your
nose, even if you sometimes cry. People loved the clown and his big, warm smile. And he
But there was one big sadness in our clown's life. He got
more and more aware that he was so limited in his thinking and experience. His thoughts
only circled around in his limited circus circles. And with every passing year he had more
difficulty to develop new ideas, to show his spectators the many sides of life.
people still loved him, he knew he should give them more. He should open their eyes to the
bigger world. He should open their eyes to the many people in this world. To the people
who think and live differently from them. To the people who suffer from injustice and
poverty. To the people who would like to share their gifts and their human warmth with
He knew: Life was much more than life in this circus.
Life was much deeper than he had experienced so far.
And so, one day, our clown decided to go on a journey. He
had heard there was a man called Jesus. And people had told him that Jesus lived life in
its fullness, and that he loved and was loved. That's what our clown was looking for: life
in its fullness, to love and to be loved.
And so he took his rucksack and packed into it his small,
brown violin, his wide, colourful trousers, and his big, red nose. And with the violin,
the trousers and the nose in his rucksack, he directed his steps to the East, to Galilee,
to find Jesus.
When wandering through the lands, it was not long before
he met a gipsy girl. Her long black hair hanging over her dark brown face, she was sitting
beside the road and crying.
"I'm a foreigner in this country", she said,
"and because I'm not like the others, I'm cast out. I'm allowed to work here, but not
The clown laid his arms around her shoulders and cried
with her. But then he took his small, brown violin and gave it to the girl. "Take it
and play it", he said, "and let its sound comfort you and the hearts of all
suffering people around you."
Wandering further through the lands, it was not long
before he met a mother with three children. Holding the youngest at her breast and the
other two in her arm, she was sitting beside the road and crying. "Injustice, poverty
and brutal war", she said, "have taken our father and everything; my children
must now live naked."
The clown laid his arms around her and the children's
shoulders and cried with them. But then he took his wide, colourful trousers and gave them
to the family. "Take them and use them", he said, "they are big enough to
give clothes for all three of your children."
Wandering further through the lands, it was not long
before he met a young man. Having his head on his knees, he was sitting beside the road
and crying. "I'm unemployed and cannot find a job", he said, "nobody needs
me, and I'm worth nothing."
The clown laid his arms around his shoulders and cried
with him. But then he took his big, red nose and gave it to the young man. "Take it
and put it on your nose", he said, "and I will teach you how to be a good and
Finally, after many weeks and months, our clown arrived
in Galilee. He went to Nazareth, knocked at Jesus' door and walked into His house.
A man was sitting in the room.
"Are you Jesus?", asked the clown, People told
me that Jesus lives life in its fullness, He loves and is loved".
"Dear friend", responded the man, "Jesus
died 2000 years ago, you cannot meet Him here."
The clown broke out in tears. "Then my whole journey
was in vain. And my life will continue to circle around in my old, limited circus
"Don't be sad", answered the man, "you've
already met Jesus three times on your way here. Whenever you meet a person and open your
hands, you also meet Jesus. And you make an experience of fullness of life, you love and
you are loved."
The clown stood there, surprised and silent. He dried his
tears and started a smile. But then, after a further thought, he sadly answered: "But
now all my gifts have gone. There's nothing left I could share.
"Your hands are empty", replied the man,
"because you faced your neighbours with open hands. But love means giving and
receiving. And only empty hands can receive. Open your hands for your neighbours again.
And your empty hands will be filled."
The clown opened his hands, and the man gave him a
wonderful Pan Flute. "Take this shepherd's flute", he said, "take it back
to your circus. And whenever you perform as a clown, play one piece on this flute for your
Let them listen to the sound of eternity. Let them listen
to the sound of love. Let them understand that the world is much bigger than their circus.
Let them experience love and to be loved, to receive and to give, to give and to
The clown stood there, with the flute in his hands. His
heart felt warm, and on his face he had a deep and happy smile.
"I will go back to my circus", he said, "I
will tell my people that I met Jesus. I will blow my flute, and we will face our
neighbours, with open hands, to love and to be loved, in the fullness of life."
Written for the EAY General
Assembly, May 1993:
"Facing my Neighbours with Open Hands"