I’ve just returned from my annual clown trip to Iquitos Peru, with Patch Adams and 100 clowns from all over the world to participate in an international healthcare project in an impoverished community.
The clowns come from different countries, backgrounds, ages, education, jobs, but we come together here and become one tribe. We gather in welcome, hugging, dancing, and chanting we initiate ourselves into a community that does healing work 12 hours a day.
For the last seven years I have participated because… I am reminded of the parts of me I like best… and because it gives me hope for humanity. The experience is always transformative, and sometimes it’s transcendent; those are moments when you’re moved beyond ordinary consciousness, so present that every cell in your body feels alive, and feeling one with the cosmos.
I made a home visit to a middle aged woman I saw in one of our mental health Street clinics last year. She was so suicidal I thought she needed to be hospitalized, but of course there are none for poor patients. She made a “no-suicide” contract with me and promised to see me again at the next street clinic.
When she arrived, it was with her two daughters, and all shared a story of profound mental and physical abuse. We made a real connection, we don’t have drugs, and instead I gifted each with a sacred amulet and a blessing.
This year, I asked our clinic coordinator if she could find them again, and it took awhile; they had left the abusive home and were in their own “house”; a wooden platform lashed to an abandoned water tower, partially covered with a tin roof. I brought along some nonperishable grocery items and we sat and talked. They are happy to be living together, feeling good and getting by. They showed me their amulets I’d given them, and when it was time to leave we hugged amidst tears. They thanked me repeatedly, and it had far less to do with the groceries I’d brought, than it did for having remembered the specialness of our connection. In that moment I felt our shared humanity.
Such a moment happened again on the final day after returning to our hotel following the closing parade. This spectacular farewell is always an electric high, and the clowns were dancing, singing, and drumming in the plaza in front of the hotel. I went in to take a shower, and they were still going strong when I got out. I walked to the balcony window, and looking down joined in the movement. Suddenly, without any signal, everyone turned around, looked up at me and began chanting; in that transcendent moment understood that we are the language of the Great Spirit.