February 7, 2013 | Back to: News

Faith Factor | Laughing with the clown in Tahoe


TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. - One Sunday, standing under a big wooden cross and hoping for someone to show up for Homewood's two o'clock mountain service, I indulged in some blatant people-watching. As someone who got on skis the first winter I could walk, I tend to snobbishness on the hill: I don't get why people would set themselves up for a miserable (and abnormally frigid) day by skiing without hat, gloves, glasses/goggles, or wind/waterproof outer layers. It's five below and you're skiing in jeans without gloves, hat or goggles? Really? Not to mention it's train-wreck fascinating to see the skills on display on a resort's main beginner run on a holiday weekend.

Then I saw a real peach: some dude in a clown suit. He carved an impressively smooth line, but a guy big enough to be middle-aged, skiing alone, in a clown suit? Come on. Please - just ski right on past me like everyone else.

Naturally, he came to a beautifully graceful stop right in front of me, introduced himself, and lit into fervent God-talk. Great: someone who looks old enough to be my grandfather, wearing a clown suit, lighting into impassioned evangelism with me, a complete stranger. But, well, I'm here as the mountain chaplain, so I might as well hold up my end, right? And really, standing on Rainbow Ridge with a panoramic view of Tahoe, Lake of the Sky, reflecting a brilliantly cloudless winter day, it's easy to experience divine beauty and grace.

That's about when I got a verbal slap upside the head.

"I can look in the mirror and focus on this wrinkled, gray face," the overly fervent guy in the clown suit said. "Or I can slap a big red nose on it ... (I was somewhat relieved he was wearing goggles and hence no big red nose) ... put on a clown suit, and make people smile."

Oh.

How dare I judge? How dare I impose my own biases on others' motives? How wonderful that he looks at a withered old face and turns it into smiles for those around him? How great would it be if we all took such initiative?

- Russell Richardson, MM, MFA, St. Nick's (Tahoe City) tuba player and publicist

Russell Richardson
Special to the Sun



Stories you may be interested in

Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Feb 7, 2013 05:47PM Published Feb 7, 2013 05:44PM Copyright 2013 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.