I am delighted to share another beautiful submission for the Monk in the World guest post series from the community. Read on for Morgana Morgaine’s wisdom on becoming a Holy Fool:
A Monk in the World, Holy Fool in Training!
I most closely identify with and revere the monk as Holy Fool. Holy Fool is a bit of a maverick, well, more than a little! She/he is most likely to be irreverently reverent, using laughter as a way to delight in everyday experience.
St. Francis of Assisi who is credited with saying: “I hung upside down so that I could see the world as it really is” seems an excellent Holy Fool to me and someone I cherish for his fearless irreverence and desire to shake up that which needed shaking. The metaphor of hanging upside down or riding the horse backwards (in the Native traditions) is a notion of reality that has taught me to see the ordinary through non-ordinary eyes.
The life of a contemporary monk is paradoxically all about freedom, living in the world, but abiding elsewhere. I need that freedom and since Holy Fool energy thrives on unpredictability and surprise, it is an antidote to worldly “shoulds” and convention in which I have been so well trained. HF helps me to look “beyond” for the “wonder of things” and its inherent magic.
So, I live the Holy Fool as a deeply spiritual aspect of my life.
I consider the language of god energy to be laughter; words seeming less spacious, less simple, and so open to interpretation. Laughter cuts right through the hazy bits of being human creating shared feelings of pure delight within us and among us.
Its magic lies in shattering distress, pain, and worry through frequent eruptions of humor, bellyhoots, and pure glee! My “inner monk” uses laughter like a physician uses sound waves to shatter a kidney stone. Some wise soul called it a way of releasing the dark side of moments that otherwise might overwhelm and hang us up indefinitely.
Theresa of Avila, not quite a holy fool but a lover of play and laughter, said to her nuns: “god is your business and your language; whomever wants to speak to you must learn this language.” I took that to heart knowing that the business of living (for me) is to cultivate a lightness of being and that requires a language that matches the task! So I look for saints, holy beings, everyday folk who help me find the upside down surprises and the holy awe in what comes my way.
Here are two contemplative practices that shift my “seeing”, my point of view, my perception, keeping me closer to god’s business, if you will. I can describe them best through story.
A friend recently invited a rescue dog named Karl into her life. Karl is old, slack-jawed, hang-eared and spends most of his day looking for a place to flop. I see him as a reincarnation of Jackie Gleason, actually: not too smart, a buffoon, really, and therefore incredibly loveable. When I met Karl, I remembered a poem I had read:
“When a dog runs up to you
Wagging its ecstatic tail,
You lean down and whisper in its ear,
I am so glad You are happy to see me.
I am so glad,
So very glad You have come.”
I practice this way of seeing, as often as I remember, by whispering to myself: “Ahhhh, god!” in the presence of the unexpected. So, now, when I see an eagle fly overhead or when a person gifted with silliness or annoyances crosses my path, or when I am transported by music or when nature expresses something outstanding, yet again, I say to myself: “Ahhh, god, here you are. I am so very glad you have come!”
And the second practice?
Well, it is well known among Holy Fools that bubbles are the way that prayers actually release and uplift the good bits of our contemplative musings. So, I keep an armory of bubble wands and high quality bubbles at hand. I go down to the waters, be it a lake or an ocean, and I hurl giant bubbles into the air filled with my frustrations, worries, joys, gratitudes and successes. Sometimes the soft wind carries them right up into the heavens and other times, they land on the waters and dance for a time before disappearing.
All in all, it is a Holy Fool moment, a lightness of being.
Bubbles for prayers.
It helps me to live “my monk in the world” as a continuous intention, a continuous practice to awaken and see the holy always lurking just behind the curtain of ordinary sight, (reminiscent of the holy fools (tin man, scarecrow, lion and Dorothy) of OZ when they discovered the truth of things behind the wizard’s curtain: “we have it all in every moment!” St. Francis would laugh.
We might laugh also at the passion of St. Francis being so overcome with fervor for the holy that he stripped himself, literally and figuratively, taking up the call “to see differently”. I imagine him continuing to express this quirkiness of the holy fool throughout his life, dumping perfection for an imperfect and messy holiness.
I love messy holiness. I love gaffs and bumbly moments when we humans are trying so hard to be something other than who we are. I’ve been there and done that and I often get caught there again; a victim to god’s humor and tomfoolery!… but, then a silly dog shows up with a face like a tire tread and looks at me lovingly and my inner monk says; “ah god…..here you are….. I am so glad you are happy to see me.”
“Likewise, I’m sure!”
Morgana Morgaine is a life coach to women, helping “light the light” by exploring the “mystic within”. Morgana facilitates workshops on laughter and play as well as “the making of a borderless broad”. She is author of Borderless Broads, New Adventures for the Midlife (and beyond) Woman.
Click here to read all the guest posts in the Monk in the World series>>
Dear Morgana, Thank you so much for this delightful insight. We have 2 gorgeous little dogs who are a constant source of delight & at times their ridiculous antics have us rolling in laughter. I will be thinking “Ahhhh, God!” many times during the day from now on as various situations arise
I must comment again how delighted I am with your delight and sharings of your stories with fathers and dogs and seriousness and messy holy foolishness. All of these comments are also an “Ahhhh, God!” encounter for me…
Morgana, your story of Karl really speaks to me. I have three dogs in my life that are beautiful, but mostly annoying to me. One belongs to my daughter’s family (with whom I live) a Goldendoodle puppy. He is tall enough now to reach the table and the counter so nothing is safe from him as he likes our food more than his own. The other two belong to my son, they are both St. Bernards who love to jump up to greet me almost knocking me over. I hope I can learn to whisper to them with your words of love and see god’s love in their joy and playfulness. “Ahhhh, god!”
Also loved the bubbles. Thanks for sharing your holy tomfoolery with us.
Growing up with a father who was Bro Francis for six years before marrying my mother, I have lived with the Holy Fool all my life. In 1964 I thought I had embraced Clare’s vision of a Nun’s life, but as a hermitess the Holy Fool again entered as a homeless one carrying the hermitage within or a “portiuncula” U-Haul to live in. Now I am down to sleeping in the car, or a tent, or on top of the car! And my bubbles become the bubble bath I manage about once a week when taking refuge in a motel for a night.
Often I find myself looking up to the sky with the words: God, I am ready for a divorce!
Guess that’s my bubble for now…
Thank you, Morgana, for reminding us to find ways to see in a new and different way. I tend to be too serious; very sincere and wanting to help, but not always carrying the lightness of the Spirit. I thank you for the reminder to be foolish. to laugh, to be messy and to fall in love again with bubbles!
I love the bubbles idea! Thank you.
How delightful! What a great read to begin the Holiest of Weeks. Thank you.