There once was a Fool. He lived everywhere and slept under the moon and was known in every town and village. The children loved him, the dogs rushed to greet him, and the young maidens looked for him but didn’t know why. When people saw him walking aimlessly down the high street, they would shake their heads, ‘Oh what a fool he is!’ they’d say, and the Fool would smile brightly.
Like always and as everywhere, people were not really sure how they felt about the Fool. He certainly was entertaining with all the strange things he did and said, but sometimes they were a little too strange and made them feel confused and awkward. He reminded them of something that was near and close that they couldn’t quite remember, and of something strange and distant that was also near and close and made them feel uncomfortable.
The Fool liked walking with the people up the High Street to church on Sunday, see them in their bright scarves, and brushed hats. The people though were quite irritated, saying that the Fool somehow disturbed the dignity of the Lord’s Day, yes, the dignity they would say. It seemed that he was always doing little things that were disturbing, yes, quite disturbing they would say. So when they walked up the High Street in their bright scarves and brushed hats, they would ask him in not too friendly tones, ‘where are you going’? ‘To see the Good Lord’ he said.
During the Service, he would look up and down and all around, and lean back to see the Angels and doves in heaven with the beautiful Mother shining in the high window’s painted glass. He would nod his head eagerly when the Deacon spoke, and every time the Priest read from the Good Book, he would look around at everyone with a big excited smile as if to say, ‘Oh, did you hear that!’
After the Service, the people would mutter ‘such a Fool’, and wonder if he really understood anything about heaven, and duty, about being good and bad, which everyone knew were the most important things of all. And he never even stayed to talk with the Priest about how nice the weather was for this time of year.
Then that day, they found him as usual sitting with a group of children, the smallest on his lap. He was smiling his bright smile and talking like a song to the children who followed his voice with wide happy eyes. ‘See’! he said, and picked up some leaves that had blown down, ‘see these little ones. They miss their brothers and sisters on the big tree’. And each child took a leaf and looked at it resting in their hand. Some gently felt its silky greenness, others said soft secret things to it, and the smallest one held it lovingly against her cheek. And the people quickly took their children back, shook their heads and said, ‘Oh what a Fool he is’!
The Fool was foolish enough to like everyone, but he loved best of all to talk with the children. Every evening, after the dinner chores were done, the children would leave their homes, and by ones and twos and threes would gather in the shady wood near the church to hear more about trees and brooks, clouds and angels, and the Good Lord.
That evening, the children asked the Fool ‘where is God’? The Fool laughed and said, ‘well if we all look very carefully, under every bush and in every place sunny and dark, we might find him’! The children scattered with happy shouts throughout the wood to find God. Soon a little boy came and grabbed the Fool’s hand, ‘here!’ he said, here, I know where God is’! They went to a dark crater where a tree had fallen, ‘there’! he said, peering a little fearfully into the dark hole, ‘I think he’s down there’. Another pointed up into the billowing white clouds, ‘see, up there she cried’! And still another said, ‘I can’t see him, but I can hear him, can’t you hear him too? The Fool cried ‘Yes, and Yes, and Yes’! and they all clapped and chattered and pointed and explained. But where does God live? they asked. Then the Fool took the hand of each one and put it on their heart and said ‘feel that? That’s God’s home’.
After the people heard about this, they all agreed that the Fool would have to leave their town. Maybe this was the something strange that had always made them uneasy. The next day, when the Fool walked to the edge of town, only the children and the dogs followed him. When they at last parted, the children asked, ‘where will you go’? And he smiled his bright smile and said, ‘into the everywhere and under the moon. I will always be there, and so you will be there with me’.
The next day and up to now, the people always wondered if the Fool would ever come back, if they would ever be able to touch that strange something they had come to miss. But they didn’t want to talk about it. What if the children heard?
David Russell OFS Fyn