john davies
notes from a small curate

    Mike Yaconelli tribute

    St Luke's, Holloway, 23/11/ 03

    The day I heard about Mike's death I had been reading a book by the 20th century English mystic artist Cecil Collins. The book is called 'The Vision Of The Fool'. It's a celebration of those who sprinkle colour into life's greyness by being 'innocent, spontaneous and joyful, even Christ-like'. Those who say things which may be ridiculed by conventional society, although they actually have the sight which society has lost.

    Collins says that 'the greatest Fool in history was Christ. This great Fool was crucified by the commercial pharisees, by the authority of the respectable, and by the mediocre official culture of the philistines.' This is the Christ Mike Yaconelli so joyously introduced to so many of us who hadn't seen him that way before.

    Since that shocking day I can't stop thinking about Yaconelli as the most wonderful example of a 'holy fool'. One of those people touched deeply by the greatest Fool, one of those who respond wholeheartedly to the Fool. Mike was one of those, who, in Collins' words, is a 'victim of the radiance of life', one whose vision included the lovingly-honed gift of being able to laugh at his own quirks and failings, while keeping to the fore a wonderful sense of self-worth through knowing himself loved by God.

    Like Collins' Fool Mike was gifted to weave fun and magic together with wisdom and healing compassion. And how infectious Mike's foolery has been.
      For the Fool awakens the Fool in others [Collins writes], but in many the Fool is stifled or sleeps. There are human beings living in isolation and loneliness in society who realize suddenly that they belong to the Fool, that they exist in the Fool, that in the Fool they have found their race, and their kind, to whom they belong; and that they are united in the communion of all Fools, which includes the communion of Saints, the communion of all creative souls, and the communion of the visible with the invisible. They are united in the enigmatic and universal compassion of the Fool. The Fool is near to them, and is their emblem. The Fool is the symbol of the lost ones of this world who are destined to inherit eternal life.
    If he'd been asked to speak on this subject I'm sure Mike would have put it far more plainly. He'd have told a riproaring story to deeply touch his listeners' hearts and heads and have us howling in delight as our vision of life changed forever.

    All this makes me remember the truth Yaconelli always held as self-evident: that laughter is heaven's language. Religion without fun is religion without God. I'm so glad to have been touched by that holy Fool who expressed that holy vision so wonderfully well. And to be so much more foolish myself as a consequence.


    Quotes from Cecil Collins, The Vision of the Fool