This year our calendar offered us the whimsical opportunity to celebrate Easter on April Fool’s Day. While the latter is not considered a day with spiritual significance, I wonder if that might be a mistaken perception, a perception the calendar fates were attempting to correct by aligning those two days.
Much of the meaning of Easter is grounded in a story which defies rational understanding, thus making it easy to dismiss the story—of a dead man rising from his grave—as little more than foolishness. This year, as with any year that juxtaposes these two particular days, jokes abounded that used the resurrection story as some sort of skillful prank, an April Fool’s joke to end all jokes.
But spirituality and foolishness have quite a lot in common beyond the readiness of a cynical, materialistic culture to dismiss spiritual pursuits as a foolish waste of time because their rationale and their results are usually impossible to measure or explain with any explanation that would satisfy the questioner. Spiritual teachers in many traditions have noted that being willing to be foolish, to recognize that the rational mind will object to some of the practices and ideas of spirituality, is essential for growth in wisdom.
Shakespearean drama frequently featured fools as fixtures in the royal court—and as sources of wisdom, the kind of wisdom that is only available to one who stands outside cultural conventions, unattached to anyone or anything. That position, a position of nonattachment and a refusal to go along with whatever is deemed right or necessary at the time, means one is considered some sort of fool, or crazy, worthy of being ignored and dismissed. But it is that very position of foolishness, of standing apart, that enables one to see so much that those who are caught within cultural trends cannot see or understand.
In this time when polarization seems so very intense, when our attachments may be fiercer than ever, we could probably use some fools to come along and offer wisdom, shake us up a bit, point us in more creative directions. The calendar opened the door to such considerations; maybe a fool, maybe even one of us, now needs to walk through that door.