An April Fool's Easter

Foolishness and Salvation, part 1

Sun Apr 1
Yesterday was the full moon. It was the first full moon after the vernal equinox, which makes today the first Sunday after the first full moon of spring, and that means . . . it’s Easter!

Easter brings out a bit of the impish in me. Every Easter, for the last 7 or 8 years, I post on Facebook, early in the morning – the same post every year:
“He is risen! She is risen! They are risen! We are risen! OK, everybody up? Excellent. Now what?”

I mentioned to an Episcopalian priest friend of mine that I do this. He said, “That’s actually pretty good theology.” Clever man.

So my impish streak is particularly delighted that THIS Easter is also April Fool’s day. Easter and April Fool’s day coincide, on average, about once every 30 years, but it’s very irregular. Last time it happened was 62 years ago – 1956 – so in my lifetime, it’s never happened before. I’m so excited.

So let me talk about the Fool, whose day we herewith celebrate – and also about that great jester, Jesus, whom we also celebrate today.

The Fool is a character on Tarot cards that first appeared in early Medieval Europe as a vehicle for fortune telling and gambling. The Tarot, and particularly the Major Arcana represent archetypal images for our western culture and spiritual paths. There are 22 Major Arcana, numbered sequentially, zero through 21, with the Fool being zero.

Sallie Nichols, Jungian psychologist, author of “The Wisdom of the Fool,” writes that,
“Here the Fool is the central character of the Tarot Trumps....To see him dance is to plumb the mystery of all creation, for his essence is all-inclusive and his paradoxes many. He strides forward yet he looks backward, thus connecting the wisdom of the future with the innocence of childhood. His energy is unconscious and undirected, yet it seems to have a purpose of its own. He moves outside space and time. The winds of prophecy and poesy inhabit his spirit. Although he wanders with no fixed abode, he endures intact throughout the ages. His multicolored costume spins a rainbow wheel offering us glimpses of eternity.”
The Fool offers us fresh, often startling perspective – so it’s appropriate that the Fool’s day comes in early spring. April Fool’s Day, Ground Hog's Day, Valentine's Day, Chinese New Year, Mardi Gras, and almost seven weeks later, now Easter are all observances of the coming of spring -- as is the “official” day, the Vernal equinox. This plethora of celebrations of the ending of winter and spring's resurrection of life, and green, and flowers, and hope is appropriate, for, in fact, we don't know when spring will begin. We never know exactly when the freshness of the world will make itself evident to us.

So it's best to be ready. And never miss an opportunity to party.

In the joy of new life, the resurrection of hope from the cold, barren winter, death’s victory is never final. And the Fool is the one who points to new possibilities to break us out of the deadening crust of frozen convention. In Foolish wisdom, we see truth. By turning the world to a different angle, the fool exposes our ridiculousness to us.

For examples, one only need type “The Onion” into one’s search engine. This morning’s headlines from the Fools at “America’s Finest News source” include:
“EPA Rolls Back Emissions Standards To Increase Consumer Choice Over Type Of Apocalyptic Hellscape Earth Will Become”

Funny – and true. Another headline:
“‘I Don’t Fit Into Any Of Corporate America’s Little Boxes,’ Says Single, 18-To-36-Year-Old Hispanic Female With Brand Loyalty To Tom’s, Chobani”

The fool deftly punctures our illusions of uniqueness, or of independence from categories.

The fool shows us foibles, and helps us learn from them – slyly insinuating that we may be taking the wrong approach to a problem.

A husband visits a doctor and says, “It’s my wife, doc. I think she’s losing her hearing.”
“How bad is it?” says the doc. The man doesn’t know. The doctor says, “We have some tests, but first we can get a rough idea. Try this simple test at home. Stand across the room, speak in a normal voice. If she doesn’t hear you take two steps closer. Keep doing that – and come back and tell me how close you had to get before she hears you.”
So the man goes home. He stands on the other side of the living room, and he says “What would you like for dinner?”
Two steps closer.
“What would you like for dinner?”
Another two steps.
Still no answer.
Finally, he’s only three feet away.
“What would you like for dinner?”
The wife says, “The rice and beans will be fine, for the fourth time.”

Sometimes we think we’re stuck in a situation in which we cannot be heard. But the jokester applies elbow to ribs to remind us that maybe it is we who should be listening better – and that we cannot feel heard except within the context of a conversation in which we ourselves are hearing.

* * *
This is part 1 of "Foolishness and Salvation"
See also
Part 2: Jesus as Wise Fool
Part 3: Foolish UUs

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