Posted by: Dan | October 24, 2004

"Garden of Simple"

Laughing, we were laughing. And in the midst of it all my brothers phoned to say they missed me and they loved me.

“I keep going to different get-togethers and expecting you to show up until I remember, 'Oh yeah, Dan's not coming.'”

Then I return to the laughter. The conversation has shifted and one of my friends is being teased about her fear of clowns. Somebody brings up an old episode from, of all things, 'Little House on the Prairie' in which a girl is kidnapped and raped by a clown. Now they tell her not just to watch out for clowns but to watch out for clowns because they might rape her.

“Ohhhh, that would be aweful!”

But she's not so much talking about being raped as being raped by a clown. And she's laughing as she says it. Everybody's laughing. And I… I guess I sort of shut down. I stopped laughing and couldn't really start again.

I once had a dear friend write me a poem that said this:

Joy for her in loving a friend
whose conscience burdens him with the crimes of others
not just his own.
A lucky chance to widen her heart.

But I don't think it's the crimes of others I carry. It's their wounds. It seems that all my personal wounds have healed. Yet always I am carrying the wounds of others and these – these have no time to heal. Everywhere I go, every circle I move in, they are ripped open again. How can people laugh at such a thing when I can hardly bring myself to write the word in my journal? These wounds will not heal until the other has been healed. And what chance do they have? If this is how it is for me, how is it for those who carry such wounds on their bodies?

Alas for situations like these. It seems hope has no place here. Not because it comes across as far-fetched, it's just that it feels inappropriate. Hope: nice idea, it just doesn't fit this context. There's no frame of reference to put it in, it just floats around without meaning.

but in the garden of simple
where all of us are nameless
you were never anything but beautiful to me
and, you know, they never really owned you
you just carried them around
and then one day you put 'em down
and found your hands were free

– Ani DiFranco

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Responses

  1. Sometimes even inappropriate humor is for healing. And your keen sensitivity for those who suffer is not lost on the world. Hope is alive, you breathe it.

  2. I understand what you’re saying but isn’t there a difference between humour initiated by those who are in the process of healing and humour initiated by those who have never been wounded? I understand how the first can be liberating. I don’t understand how the second can be… maybe you can help me understand…

    I appreciate your encouraging words. Quite often I feel that there is no greater goal than that of embodying, or breathing, hope. Thank you.

  3. I want a few days to think on this question.
    :)

  4. I agree with inanna…it is who you are and the way you carry others pain that has changed my life. It is in you that I have actually found the most hope, because in you I feel like I’ve actually met Jesus.

  5. Funny how we feel similar ways about each other.

    In so many ways you are a constant source of encourgement to me.

  6. “Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you walk into an open sewer and die.”
    -Mel Brooks

    Hi, again,

    We all have our various dispositions, of course. You ask how humor initiated by those who have never been wounded can be liberated. That’s a damn good question… Though I frequently question whether anyone has never been wounded—but to follow that point too much would be beside the point at hand (or would it?)…

    I have a dark sense of humor. Sometimes, as a believer, I struggle with the question of its appropriateness, whether it’s becoming of one whose faith and life are supposed to be defined by radical charity and compassion. And sometimes, I don’t. Most of the time, I net out with a philosophy of humor not unlike that of George Carlin’s (well, most comedians believe this, but he’s a prime and rather glowing example), which is, there is essentially no such thing as “inappropriate” humor, and that it’s all dependent upon things like timing, wit, the nature of the exaggeration, etc. I don’t really have a “too far” line, because to me it’s more about where you’re coming from than always where you go.

    But I also understand that a dark or morbid humor isn’t for everyone, and that probably just includes you. Different people have different ways of dealing with the darkness in the world, and I think that includes those who have been wounded and those who haven’t (which is relative, anyways–though I’m pretty sure I get where you’re coming from when you say that, i.e., laughing at or about particular horrors, traumas, tragedies and sufferings that oneself has not actually endured). Such humor can indeed be manifestations of sick attitudes and callous hearts. But I also believe that such humor can stem, rather than callousness or indifference toward suffering, but a keen sense of the ironic and the absurd, which itself is at least indicative of a profound (if not necessarily articulated) and hopeful eschatological vision.

    God Bless


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