When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they...
At the risk of making you wonder about my ability to have deep thoughts, I am going to meditate here upon one very fun word: “silly.” It actually is fun to say, besides fun to be. But there’s nothing like the dictionary to be a downer: the American Heritage dictionary first defines “silly” as “exhibiting a lack of wisdom or good sense; foolish.” So that speaks to inability. The second definition is “lacking seriousness or responsibility; frivolous.” That speaks to being out of control, or even rebellious. The third definition is “semiconscious; dazed.” Great, so now were talking about insobriety, or a nasty head wound. I’m forced to wonder, from which of these definitions did the inspiration for silly putty come?
Never fear—the dictionary redeems itself by then presenting the Middle English origin of the word, which is seli, or silli, meaning “blessed, innocent, hapless” from the Old English word for blessed. Hmm. While to one extent the dramatic shift in meaning is somewhat lost on me, in another sense, it makes perfect sense.
Blessed people (particularly those who know they are blessed), seem very foolish to the world. They take difficulty in stride because they know it doesn’t compare with the wonders down the road. They make kingdom-choices that look foolish, or like nonsense. Their generosity toward those in need looks like irresponsibility to those whose philosophy is to get all you can, and then get more.
So, I say let’s go back to the origins of the word, and be really silly. Even in our common usage today (not giving in to the haughty attitude of the dictionary), there is a profundity to silliness that informs our spirituality. Consider this: when do you feel most free to be silly? (Now, you extroverts, don’t spoil my moment here by saying, “All the time!”) Most of us feel most liberated in general when we are either alone, or with the people who know and love us the most. So, in the church, of all places, we ought to feel most free to be silly, to be vulnerable, to be excited, to be sad… to be real. I don’t really think that Sly and the Family Stone were the first ones to say, “We Are Fam-i-ly!” Scripture is filled with family: Father, Son, Holy Spirit; Twelve Tribes of Israel; brothers and sisters in Christ; children of God; adoption into God’s family.
So as I compose these thoughts, I’m so grateful when believers can be real with each other. And not just those of us who are “artsy types,” but all of us. Because, hey, we really are silly (in the truest sense of the word, of course!).