Robert (gurdonark) wrote,


The theologian John Meagher writes:

"Imagining and pursuing God is admittedly foolish, even if it eventuates in wisdom, but so is everything else we do. We are fools who live foolishly in a life that offers no rescue from folly. The task is to be appropriately foolish: not successfully, or triumphantly, or admirably, or efficiently, or even effectively, only appropriately....Being appropriate, which is the same as being ambitiously true, is the creative use of our foolishness to steer ourselves, or to let ourselves be steered, homeward".

This passage speaks to me. One can only revel in one's folly. It's just no use imagining that one has "figured anything out". The human condition is just too limited, the possibilities just too infinite. A thousand small successes may bring a measure of material comfort, or aesthetic satisfaction, or even a semblance of being loved, but ultimately, one can only fall back on one's attempt to foolishly muddle through.

I stand tonight facing a series of challenges to which I am adequate, and must focus most of all on marshaling my energy to accomplish the tasks before me. Some tasks are professional, some are personal, some are tasks I have set myself for fun. If I successfully perform all of my tasks, I will be not one mite less foolish. If I fail in a few, I might be a trace moreso.

I don't need "solved theologies", or personal inventories, or guilt and depression, or material comparisons with others to realize the limitations of the life I live. I only need to breathe in, and breathe out. In every inhalation, I imagine I hear the limitless reaches of space, to which I will never aspire to visit. In every exhalation I hear death approaching, putting a punctuation on a life foolishly lived.

The issue for me now is not whether I am to be foolish; that is a predefined part of a condition of human life, whatever my circumstances. The issue instead for me is how to live that life to create the High Art foolishness to which I aspire, rather than the tawdry, sad foolishness I create when I paint with a flaccid brush.

I rememember the jester and the king in the poem, who prayed, "Lord, have mercy on me, a fool". But foolishness is so hard-wired in this short, effort-filled life that the prayer seems almost superfluous. The prayer might almost be "Given, I am a fool. May I pray anyway?".

Ultimately, Meagher may have a point--we do not find our way home by pretending we will ever be anything but foolish. We find our way home by reveling in our foolhardiness, and using it to steer.

All our failures and all our flaws and all our earnest unsuccessful schemes--they all are ways of escape, and the escape tunnel leads to acceptance that it is our foolishness, really, that is our saving grace. If we can realize that we will be foolish, and still try to find an "appropriate" foolishness, perhaps the game is worth burning out the candle to play, after all.

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