17 – Maria
There are not enough words to express how my heart has been transformed by Maria. Yet this story wants to be shared; so I will try to make you live her story, our story.
Where do I start?
A few days earlier I had just celebrated my 55th birthday, November 4th, with my new extended clown family! As a Humanitarian Clown I had joined a merry band of international lovers of humanity in India; each one of us dreaming of a creating a better, more caring world; a world where no one would be left behind. On the actual morning of my birthday I was awoken to find 100 multicolored balloons placed in front of my door!!! What an amazing pleasure!
What a special day this was to be! Banners, balloons, cake splattered all over my face, nothing was spared to make this the best day ever! Never had I received such loving attentions! I was blessed! The days that followed I was filled with a deep-hearted soulful feeling of joy, and I would share these gifts of love I had received with the children in hospitals and orphanages. My mission was well underway.
Hot, thirsty and hungry
I met ‘Maria’ on a hot sun-charring day, typical of my journey in India since we had arrived two weeks earlier. I had set out one morning with a fellow clown to explore the chambers and rituals of the Vellore Fort Temple. It was beautiful inspiring spiritual food for all the senses. This particular day was a scheduled rest period for us Care Clowns; a day for resourcing, to integrate the many emotions we had been going through.
As we walked through the busiest, noisiest and most polluted streets of the city, we decided to take an overpass crossing the main artery. There we came across a beautiful woman sitting alone by herself on the stairs. Most people wouldn’t see her. Most people would just call her a beggar and dutifully ignore her. But as we walked up to her, we kneeled down to connect, to make her visible again.
As we sat with ‘Maria’, we sang, we talked, we gave her love and warmth. There wasn’t any poverty or disease for us, she was this beautiful woman. We brought her food, water, flowers, we prayed with her. She gave us smiles, tears and even prayed for us, thanking us in her most precious way.
Most onlookers ignored us, a few were curious and stopped, and I think one or two actually thanked us for what we were doing. The language barrier didn’t help, but between the three of us there was no barrier. Time stood still.
After many caring exchanges and hugs we eventually parted, carrying this encounter deep within my soul. Something within my heart had been stirred as I recognized parts of Maria in me.
One is the loneliest number
In everyday life I would never have dared to stop and sit down with ‘Maria’. As a Humanitarian Clown I was able to give care as part of a group, as part of an organised mission. But by myself I still didn’t feel ready. I still felt scarred and scared. I had yet to heal and learn that I was a good man. True, I was already on a world mission of giving love, and yet, there was still one person I couldn’t give to: myself! How could this be?
I had been lonely most of my life… Lonely with my family, lonely at school, lonely in my relationships. Solitude is often called the disease of Modern Civilizations. How can we today, wifi-ed and concentrated in mega-cities, be so alone, feeling lost in a bag of skin? We each have our stories, our origins, our roots, or lack there off. Sadly, we are able to function in a community of … loners… to a point… And then there are some who can’t and fall between the cracks, outside, alone in the streets. So many Marias around the world.
I almost became a ‘Maria’ myself. She and I share many common pains. Luckily, I’ve found a way back, away from loneliness towards warmth and open heartedness. Still, everyday remains a challenge, old habits die hard. At least now I have found faith, hope, kindness and the care of others like me, whom I guess may have also experienced both sides of the story. Being out of love and crossing over to giving love makes me feel part of a larger humanity. It gives me the chance to partake in one of life’s most beautiful gift… the gift of love, and in turn, to share it around today.
Thank you Maria, thank you all my fellow clowns in India and in Guatemala. You are all part of my journey, reminding me where I came from and showing me where I am going. Today I’m opening my heart to myself, and in so am able to give the greatest gift of all: love. I love you all.
Guy ‘A Good Man’ Giard ( aka Citizen Clown :0) )
”May the Farce be with all of us!”
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