We all have moments when we can truly be described as fiddling, foolish, unimportant, incidental, inconsequential, inconsiderable, insignificant, or in other words, frivolous. Perhaps it is the way we take a break from the serious and demanding parts of our own lives. We seek a pause in life. And so from time to time we value the people in our lives that can provide that temporary comic relief. The royal courts of England employed court jesters for just such a task, but once the jester was done, the royal court returned to its business. Jesters disappeared when the Puritan Oliver Cromwell, no frivolity in that one, banned them in 1653.
Francesco Bernadone, grew up as the jester of Assisi – not too serious about much except revelry and partying with his friends. But things changed and Francesco became “God’s Fool” (Julian Green) who held in his heart the good things the Lord revealed to him and demonstrated those good things in the fruit that he bore in his own life and in the seeds planted within all who call themselves Franciscans. And Francis had a serious and demanding life – with moments of being frivolous.
Oliver Cromwell probably would have banned Francis because of his foolish way of going through life, perhaps missing what his life revealed about God. There is a difference between a frivolity rooted in the joy of God and simply playing the fool for laughs.
Admonition Twenty-One: The Frivolous and Talkative Religious
1 Blessed is the servant who, when he speaks, does not disclose everything about himself under the guise of a reward and is not quick to speak, but who is wisely cautious about what he says and how he responds.
2 Woe to that religious who does not hold in his heart the good things the Lord reveals to him and does not reveal them by his behavior, but, under the guise of a reward, wishes instead to reveal them with his words. 3 He receives his reward and his listeners carry away little fruit.