(Delivered at UUSF on October 1, 2017. Listen to the audio here.)
The people here are warm and accepting, even hospitable. In many ways it is like a hospital, as a place of healing for illness; physical, emotional, spiritually. It is also a school, a place of learning with so many opportunities. But my favorite thing about UUSF is how it is a space for laughter. Whether at the clever ministers' ministrations, or the choir's cute capriciousness or the congregation's gutsy gusto, all areas are rife with wonderful healing smiles and laughter. Okay. I'm a little bent towards laughter by the fact I've been clowning around for forty years and as a clown I've seen the healing effects of laughter first hand on many occasions.
Let me describe my own Patch Adams moment from a clown show I did in the early eighties at Loma Linda Hospital in southern California. It was an Easter Show and had gone pretty well; a little juggling and magic, a lot of balloon creations.. When the show was over I was making balloon shapes for the remaining children when a group of nurses grabbed me and said; "Come with us! ". They were smiling and excited, explaining that a child who had been non-communicative for months since a car wreck claimed his parent’s lives was now animatedly saying "Clown, balloon, clown, balloon!" So off I rushed and he was put to the head of the line and I received one of my first lessons in the Clown as Shaman. What a wonderful feeling these moments instilled in me. The spirituality of silliness!
Many here are aware that I suffer from chronic pain in my neck, shoulder, and jaw. Some from arthritis (I call it arth-wrongis) osteo problems and some accidents over the years. Of all the different tools I fight this pain with; medications, meditation, acupuncture, chiropractic, the most fulfilling and effective medicine is still being a clown from time to time. And here in this sacred healing space it has been a great pleasure and privilege to get to interact with your children, make balloons and have fun in a healing celebratory way, for myself and others.. That means all of you and each of you give me strength and healing. And now I get to stand before you and give you my thanks.