Don’t Neglect Sharing Our Gift


– Dean Cotton, WCA Ministry Director

This past Sunday afternoon, I clowned at an assisted living facility near my home. It was a very rewarding time clowning around with the residents and twisting balloons as a small choir led a sing along. Yesterday another clown from our troupe and I clowned for a “Spring Fling” event at another assisted living facility on the other side of town. As I made eye contact with each of the residents in these facilities, I was struck by the gift we each hold and my feeling of responsibility to share it (smiles and laughter). The responsibility to share this wonderful gift called the Art of Clowning with those who may need it most.

Ministry can come in many forms and ministry means different things to each person. I believe that ministry clowning is more than using the art of clowning to deliver a religious message. We minister to people when we meet needs. The need for laughter is universal, but especially to “the least of these”, those our busy society has set to the side. So when you clown around in a nursing home, children’s home, hospital, disaster zone, homeless shelter, or places like these, you are ministering to their need for smiles and laughter.

Several years ago I was clowning around with the sing along choir for a large group of seniors at a nursing / rehabilitation facility near my home. After we had completed the group time I was asked by the staff if DeanO had time to visit some residents that were not able to attend the sing along. I visited several people in their rooms, twisted balloon flowers and visited for several minutes. One of the staff was ushering me from room to room. In the last room we visited there was an elderly lady in bed staring out the window. As I twisted a smiley face flower balloon for her, she began to talk to the colorful clown. The staff person suddenly became very excited and exclaimed “I can’t believe it! I must get her daughter” (who was in the hall) and she rushed out of the door. The daughter entered and was equally excited. I was not sure what was happening or did happen, but I completed our few minutes together and made my exit. In the hall they explained to me that this lady had not talked to anyone for several weeks. To them it was almost a miracle. But to me it was only a little surprising. It is the ability of a clown to help someone forget the trials and troubles of life, even if for a short time.

On Sunday afternoon as I was working my way around the room (not such an easy task for a clown with BIG shoes in the midst of all the walkers, wheelchairs, and people), I came to an elderly man, his wife and their granddaughter. I twisted a balloon flower for the woman and she playfully bopped me with it. I turned to the man and could tell that he was enjoying listening to the sing along music. He did not speak, but smiled as we made eye contact. I proceeded to twist an airplane balloon and put it into his hand. As he smiled at DeanO his granddaughter excitedly told me that he was a military veteran. The U. S. Air Force. He was a pilot. A Colonel. I did not grasp the importance of the situation until later when driving home. I got to minister smiles and laughter to some beautiful people who needed it very much. And even an Air Force Colonel.

So don’t neglect sharing the gift of clowning. You might get to perform for, and bring smiles to an Air Force Colonel and use your clown character to communicate with folks and give a short break from their trials and troubles!

Please share your thoughts and questions on this or any other clown ministry topic. You can reach me by email deanotclown@aol.com .

Keep Smiling,

Dean