Just after writing yesterday’s blog I heard a recitation of “The Clown of God”, a delightful short story by Tomi dePaola.
In a nutshell, an orphaned street urchin named Giovanni goes begging from door to door, juggling for his food. He joins a traveling troupe of entertainers, and gains fame and fortune as a juggler. One day he shares his humble lunch of bread and cheese with some Franciscan Brothers, who thank him for his charity and, over lunch, regale him of the Mission of Saint Francis.
Eventually the juggler grows old, retires from juggling, and again becomes a homeless beggar.
On one cold night, Giovanni seeks shelter in a nearby church, run by those same old Franciscan Brothers, and falls asleep. He awakens to the sight of the townspeople offering gifts to statues of the baby Jesus and his mother, and he is astonished and amazed at the beauty and sanctity of the event.
The crowd leaves, and our elderly juggler approaches, to see that the statues appear to him as sad. He puts on his clown face, and juggles as he never has before, to put a smile on the divine Child’s face. In the midst of his devotional performance, he dies of a heart attack.
The monks in the church, some of whom thought that his performance was sacrilegious, turn to see that the statue of Mary and the baby Jesus are now smiling, and that baby Jesus is holding one of the juggling balls. The message of the story expands on the theme of the short film I reviewed yesterday: to offer one’s talents to please God is the perfection of all work.
I can’t find an online version of the book; I guess that’s because it’s copyrighted. It’s worth buying a copy of the charming story, especially if you have children who enjoy bedtime stories with an uplifting message.
Posted by Kurma on 24/8/07; 6:25:50 AM