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Blog: Lee Younger

Clowns and Ashes

CCC Oak Ridge

Easily the most ridiculous thing about my town right now is the Jewelry Clown on the Turnpike. By the way, the fact that this town has a clear front runner in the race of ‘most ridiculous’ is in itself ridiculous. I mean, my town is like a Chinese Buffet of outrageous buffoonery. Just when you think you’ve had too much and are completely stuffed full, there’s another piping hot tray of absurd nonsense right there between the sesame chicken and the beef and broccoli. Anyway, back to the Jewelry Clown. Surely at this point you’re wondering what in the world a Jewelry Clown is, right? Well, here goes: There is a jewelry store on the Turnpike that is going out of business, and instead of simply posting “Going Out Of Business” signs and advertising some crazy sale prices, the proprietor of this otherwise completely normal jewelry store actually pays a fully grown human male to dress up in a clown costume and stand there on the busiest street in town all day holding a “Going Out Of Business” sign. 

A clown. In front of a jewelry store. Really?

I mean, I would understand if the clown were advertising one of those jump zones for kids, filled with inflatable castles and comically gigantic boxing gloves. I would still feel bad for the clown, but at least it would sort of make sense, but come on… a clown in front of a jewelry store? It’s just so… what’s the word? It’s just so creepy! Everyday when I drive by and see this poor guy, I think to myself, “Brother, you really should take yourself a bit more seriously.” There’s simply no dignity left when a guy is strutting about in public, draped in enormous, shimmering, yellow pants with a silken jester’s hat someone should have thrown out after the Renaissance fair. We all feel bad for you and are simultaneously creeped out by you. 

On the other hand, maybe the Jewelry Clown is on to something. You see, I think that most people have the same problem. We take ourselves way too seriously. We pamper, promote and protect ourselves as if we are the world’s most valuable commodity. Nine times out of ten, if we are worried or concerned, it’s about ourselves. We spend a lot of time working on our image and reputation. In fact, this last part is so important that it often trumps the self-protection or provision. You see, many people would rather waste away in a private, spiraling pain and depression than reveal a need or weakness. We simply take ourselves too seriously.

A little over a week ago, folks all over the world spent the whole day with a black smudge on their foreheads. It was Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of Lent, where a priest draws a cross on a person’s face in ashes while reciting the Lord’s words to Adam from Genesis 3: “For you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

I don’t observe Lent or Ash Wednesday, but I like that particular part of it. What if someone went around like that everyday, with the ashes on their face… not as a mark of  religious self-flagellation or repentant torture, but just as a way to remember that they were dust? It’s kind of the opposite of this whole March Madness thing going on right now, where everyone in the country is filling out brackets and sitting on the edge of their seats, wondering who is the best. Nobody’s the best. That’s kind of the point. We’re dust people. We take ourselves too seriously and that fact is the cause of most of our problems. The other side of that problem is that because we take ourselves too seriously, we take Jesus too lightly. The crazy twist on this whole thing is that if we spent less time protecting and promoting ourselves, and just admitted we were needy little dust folks and then really started taking Jesus seriously, we’d find out He thinks we have infinite value to Him… so much so in fact, that He would rather die than live without us.