The Circus of Life

The Hippodrome, Great Yarmouth

The Lion Tamer – Relationships

I remember seeing a lion tamer. For centuries circuses ‘tamed’ wild animals using barbaric and brutal means. More recently gentler methods of ‘taming’ required patience and understanding. Now animal acts are illegal.

The circus of life involves relationships – schools, police, families… We can use power to try to tame people through force, fear and threats.

Jesus’ relates to human ‘lions’ with love, kindness and infinite patience.

Aerial Acts – Risks

The tightrope walker balances; trapeze artists swing backwards, forwards, flying, catching. Either can fall from a height. There may be a safety net.

The circus of life involves dangerous risks: balancing on our tightropes, letting go of physical support, flying, trusting someone to catch us, watching for those flying towards us that need catching.

Faith is about taking risks; maintaining balance, flying unaided, catching and being caught, trusting in a divine safety net.

On the ground – Reflexes

Jugglers, acrobats, plate-spinners, fire-breathers, knife throwers… all require constant movement, co-ordination, an awareness of other people and objects…

In the circus of life we keep moving: displaying skills we have learned, using our reflexes to respond, juggling activities and responsibilities, keeping plates spinning, needing split-second timing.

Faith embraces all of life, juggling work, family, social, psychological, training our reflexes to respond to the knives thrown at us.

Clowns – Ridicule & Reality

The clown’s ridiculous clothes, painted faces and wigs; routines involving falls, buckets of water, custard pies and ladders. Their extrovert actions speak louder than words.

In the circus of life, as in ancient courts and traditional drama, the fool was often the wisest.

Jesus comes, willing to appear foolish. He calls his followers to follow a wisdom that appears foolish. I am prepared to appear a fool. I take off my clown’s face and look in the mirror. I still see a fool.


…Musing on circuses I saw as a child, the Hippodrome in Great Yarmouth, the film ‘The Greatest Showman’, the circus of life and faith…

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