Unitarian Universalist Hysterical Society
Inherent mirth and dignity

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For Bike Blessings

So, we’re lining up for the annual blessing of the bikes-and-more... and I get to be at the back, beside a super exuberant preschooler.  The kid is excitedly doing little spins, and his mother is sorta trying to control him but not really.  On the one hand, he is biking around the sanctuary mid-service… but on the other hand, he’s doing it very quietly, so she pretty much calls that a win.  Good call.

Eventually, the mom convinces the kid to come stand beside us with his bike, between me and a guy who is grinning at the kid.  Seized by impulse, the guy reaches down to the clown horn (the kind with the plastic bulb with air in it), gives it a quick and playful squeeze, and grins at the kid.

During the following interaction, no words are spoken.  It was, after all, mid ceremony in the blessing, so everyone was trying to act a bit reverent.  For the purposes of posterity, I will translate their facial expressions into words for you.

Guy:  Cool, eh?

Kid:  Oh wow!  It certainly is cool!  I can’t believe I forgot about my horn!

Mother <looking at the guy>:  AAAAHHHH!!! WHAT THE **&&*^ IS THE MATTER WITH YOU?  WHAT HAVE YOU DONE???

Kid:  I’m gonna honk this and honk this and honk this, and….

Guy:  Oh crap.  What the &(*^*(( is the MATTER WITH ME? WHAT HAVE I DONE???

Kid:  And I’m gonna… hey!  Why are you trying to keep me from honking my horn?  YOU ARE THE MEANEST MOTHER ON THE HISTORY OF THE PLANET.

Mother:  Shh.  We must be quiet in church.  People don’t want the service interrupted by a clown horn.

Kid:  Sure they do.  Services are boring, and clown horns are AWESOME. Everyone loves it so much that they all turn around to look, see?  I will smile and wave at them…

At this point, the mother has the genius idea of yanking the little rubber bulb off of the end of the horn, so it is just the squeaker.  

The kid stares at her.  Then, he stares down in shock at his decapitated bike horn.

Kid:  You. Are. Horrible.

I expect a full on tantrum, but the kid is now just staring intently down at the horn.  The whole range of human grief runs across his face.  Loss, anger, a growing awareness of injustice… I brace myself for a loud wail.

But instead of screaming, the kid just trails his finger along the wounded horn, in the place where the beautiful red bulb used to sit.  Then, he leans forward slowly.  For a moment, because of the setting and the ritual, he looks to me like he is bowing to it, in reverence.

Then, I realize that he is kissing the horn better.  He leans forward and delicately places his lips to the spot where the bulb has been torn off of the horn, and I catch my breath for this sacred moment.

Oh wait.  He is not kissing anything.

The kid takes a deep breath, fixes his lips to the remaining half of the horn, and blows hard

You see, it is not a broken horn.  It is just a horn that needs to get it’s air in a new way.

Editor’s notes: If you are wondering how to pronounce &((^&, I usually make a muttering noise like “merble-blergen-fnibble”, and rely on tone to get the idea across. People will know what you mean.

Other Editor’s note: This reading is taken from a blog post, which goes on to parse much meaning from this experience. I’ve cut it off to make it worship-sized, because I’m guessing you will have your own meanings to make. If you’d like to see the original, you can find it here.

Final note: You’re welcome to use this in worship and/or anywhere else you'd like, modifying it as you see fit. You can attribute it to either the UU Hysterical Society or Liz James (the original author). If using electronic media, a link to our site is hugely appreciated!

Liz James