We could be called The Fools, because we speak with the freedom of those who have been crucified enough by life to have no public reputation left to defend. Which means we are no longer trying to hide our real selves. We lack the calculated poise of people who are still trying not to fail. Fools fail continuously not because we are incompetent but because we risk everything for the sake of wisdom.
Foolishness speaks without any idols to defend, since fools have been liberated from their own dignity, which is the greatest idol of all. Fools in this sense speak with comic amusement at their own audacity. And the mirth they arouse in the pondering of their wild questions is how they measure the validity of their philosophical games instead of worrying about the credibility they have obtained in the world’s eye.
It’s one thing to love being seen as wise. It’s quite another to fall in love with wisdom herself in the strange dance of sharing secret moments with a divine lover who sits infinitely close to you. Consciousness itself can happen with the most intimate tenderness like the feeling of an infant on its mother’s breast. That’s how God wants us to feel all the time, and our greatest obstacle to feeling her perpetual divine embrace in our hearts is our lifelong anxiety over whether we’re failing or succeeding compared to other peoples’ failures and successes. As long as we’re obsessed with meticulously judging ourselves and others while also rebelling against these judgments, we’re not going to hear the mother who’s been quietly saying yes to us our entire lives.
God says yes, not because everything we ask for is reasonable and none of our mistakes have harmed others. God does not approve in the sense of choosing me above my peers or adversaries. God chooses to approve all of us because her mercy is infinitely available to all who seek her when they despair of being the princes of this world. The prince of this world acts like he knows God loves him but deep in his gut he needs more than anything to prove that he is the perfect human who deserves the divine throne which is why he is both God’s most scrupulously obedient, authoritative handler and God’s mortal enemy, Lucifer, of whom we are legion throughout every religious institution.
Only the one who abandons all sense of merit can actually follow the divine path without leveraging their obedience into personal authority as a religious leader. Those who leverage their holiness into authority are the Lucifers who feed humanity the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil represented by the serpent’s fruit in the story of Adam and Eve. We are being Lucifer to the degree that we love our own perfect orthodoxy more than the love we’ve received from God.
Fools are not trying to win arguments because they’ve always lost every argument. A fool just wants to feel loved, which is actually not a bad thing to look for in a spiritual journey. God is whatever is behind the voice in the universe that talks back to a fool desperately searching for love. God says, “Yes, I am here; I love you; you are not alone!” in a tone that sounds completely different than the stiff authoritarian megachurch preacher talking about hellfire and brimstone. God doesn’t shame us into accepting her mercy; God inspires us into rising above the fitful, anxious, pinball life of samsara in which we’ve probably been stuck for many lifetimes. Accepting God’s mercy means little until we accept her invitation to stop seeking achievement.
Divine love is not costly in the way that religious authoritarians want it to be. Divine love costs one thing specifically: renouncing your respectabibility, that is, giving up your ability to hold your personal moral rigor over others as a basis for feeling like a respectable authority figure. It is utterly incoherent to be a vigorously self-sacrificial authoritarian martyr and an embodiment of God’s unconditional grace simultaneously, though many preachers try to pull it off. Only fools without dignity can embody God’s grace effectively because a fool without dignity can love without trying to prove anything. When I stop trying to feel legitimate, then I can become a fool discovering myself to be loved and safe.
Fools who seek God together can build communities where grace is an embodied experience of safety and belonging. We do not need hypervigilance to create safety; we need enough authenticity that brutal honesty can happen without shame so that attending to consensual boundary-setting becomes an unshameful, entirely normal part of everyday conversation.
People who have been made to feel foolish all their lives for misunderstanding and violating unwritten rules of social etiquette have an important role to play in creating mirthful, foolish communities that embody grace, whether we’re autistic, ADHD, or otherwise weird. Because we know what grace feels like in the spaces where people are gracious enough to us that our bodies relax enough to stop shitting blood.
We know what it feels like to receive an authentic hug instead of a perfunctory hug or charity hug. We know what it’s like to hear somebody say yes after the world has repeatedly said no to us, and that yes is something we hold more tightly than anything else because if that yes is actually God speaking and everyone else starts hearing the yes too, then the world is going to be okay because we can all stop trying to be right at the same time and then be fools in love with life and God after that.