This was told at an Edinburgh Festival comedy event, and there was a debate on Woman’s Hour (yes, it really is called that, it has been going since the forties) about whether it was funny or not. Jokes about hitting women are not funny. And- it works as a joke: set up an expectation, subvert it. Ideally subvert it on the last word, which is not done here, but I did not “get it” until after the end, so it works.
On stage, one may be in character. What clown tells it? The stressed, anxious clown, life is always too much for him? I would introduce another voice in the middle of my act if I said such things- Geoff, the psychopath. Thick man, violent, monstrous even. End his part with, “Geoff, the men in the white coats are coming. Run!” And- the clown is part of me. What else might Geoff say? Geoff is not for the stage. Right now, he is in a dungeon with thick iron bars. The only light is a candle, far in the corner of the outer room, where the guards can go.
I decided to try centering prayer. The word I chose was “self”. I mean, “Organismic self”, the whole being, my own link to the Unconscious, all my responses and instincts. My theistic/spiritual and atheist/materialist sides agree that the way to the highest self is through the unconscious- and I am not sure I can claim that Christ or God is linked through any part of me.
Half an hour is a long time, but I have the time, and it is better spent that way than at Solitaire- three hundred “games” now, and counting. And- there is no good or bad, no success or failure in sensations of frustration or “deep peace and calm”- there is just Doing it. The mind wanders. Bring it back, with the Word.
Valerie Brown quotes Basil Pennington: when we become aware of our thoughts, if we continue to dwell on them, we leave our prayer and become involved again in the tensions. But if at the moment of awareness, we simply, gently return to our prayer word, the thought or image with its attendant tension will be released and flow out of our lives… we very truly die to our superficial selves, in order to enter into our Christ-being in the depths. We “die” to all our thoughts and imaginings, no matter how beautiful or useful they may seem. We leave them all behind, for we want immediate contact with God Himself, and not some thought, magic, or vision of Him- only the faith experience of Himself.
So I do it, and at the end pray-
Lord God, or Christ, or whatever is down there let me be my whole self
Perhaps “Christ” is a better word, a possible word. The leap of faith is to say that what is “down there” is Good, that there is no line which is the border between me and Christ.
And the wandering mind can be a healing thing: I Reikied myself, and found I was thinking about all sorts of things which have made me cry, and not crying. There may be no “good” state in a practice, but there can be a healing state. And I do not do this to do it, but because it might make me feel better or function better.