An Article On Miriam “REVEREND C.C. ABSURD” WILSON
Written By: Kate “Stitches” Litzelman, Roving Reporter
When I chose Miriam to be our Spotlight Clown of the Month, I knew she was a very special and unique human being and clown. Early in our talk, I knew her “biography” would not easily lend itself to a “who, what, where, when, why” facts and statistics type of story. The following attempts to describe some of those things, with a lot more emphasis on Miriam and “REVEREND C.C. ABSURD” unique and special approach to life and some of the lessons they have learned along the way.
Miriam was raised mostly in Danville, IL. She spent one year at the University of Arizona before she transferred to Geo. Washington University, where she studied marine biology. At the same time, she was working at the Smithsonian doing intricate illustrations of fish.
Sometime around then (about 33 years ago), she caught “her fish” from the many fish in the sea when she married Herb Schaffer. Miriam is still married to Herb, but decided to revert back to her maiden name to facilitate her “inner child” work, which I’ll touch on later.
Miriam and Herb raised two children on Vacation Lane (yes! that’s their real address!) in Arlington, where they still reside. Their daughter Tamara is 31 and lives in Mt. Hood, Oregon with her part Native American husband. Their son, Brett, is 29 and plans a move to Denver, Co. next month.
Miriam’s main jobs in life have been wife and mother. Motherhood has been one of the best parts of her life. She has valued her children as special beings from the start and has always been a listener and a friend.
Some of her other involvements have included various forms of art. She has sold silk screened cards, and was in the enamelist gallery at the Torpedo Factory for 10 years. She began playing the piano at age 4, and then took up violin and even played with the Arlington Symphony (before they had try outs!). She took lessons in both art and music as a child. She was also an avid tennis player for several years.
She is currently using her artistic expression through drawings and rubber stamping. She belongs to the C.I.A.! (Capital Inkers Anonymous). Her stampings are used for variety of cheerful outreach activities.
One could not describe Miriam’s life and not mention a near death experience that had such a powerful impact on her life, and even how “Rev. Absurd” was born. The experience took place in 1974 when she had a reaction to a new drug tested on migraine headaches. While most of us know about the prevalence of these profound experiences in our day and time, little was about known then. Miriam was left to sort out the meaning of this experience, which left her knowing she was here for a definite purpose, but not knowing what that purpose was. She began searching, meditating and listening to the inner guidance she receive through her relationship with Jesus.
Her openness to discovering her purpose resulted in what she called “synchronicities” too obvious to ignore. It took her about two years to get clear that her call was to be involved in healing and spiritual practices. She became involved in various groups and activities that made that commitment real for herself and others.
Miriam became increasingly attuned to her inner guidance in 1981 when, while jumping a trampoline, Miriam heard her guidance say, “I want you to be a clown.” She said “You must have the wrong person … don’t you remember? I don’t even like parades or circuses and anyway, where would I take clowning?” She did not think much of it until less than 24 hours later she inadvertently opened a piece of Tamara’s mail, a flyer advertising two weeks of clowning and Vermont through the Omega Institute for Spiritual Learning. Figuring this answer to her question was too clear to ignore, she enrolled.
The workshop focused on a variety of art. Miriam “majored” in clowning. Her mentor was “Wavy Gravy,” who she calls a clown healer. They played a lot of kid games, and did exercises in spontaneity to help them get in touch with the clown and child within them. There was no emphasis on makeup or wardrobe. She experienced deep healing.
Her clown name came to her during a spiritual art session during which she connected with the two sides of herself … the reverent/serious vs. the absurd/humorous. She got C.C. from her dad’s nickname and inherited his love of humor and outrageously fun laughter. “Rev. Absurd” is an Augúste clown and very much the brunt of life’s tricks.
In 1982, Miriam founded the T.A.O. (Totally Awesome Outrageous) Humor Center and the Pink Flamingo Clown Troop as a means for incorporating humor into the healing work. “Street Clowning” is part of that — totally unplanned, unstructured clowning often using little or no make up.
Miriam’s feelings about make up are well reflected in “The New Calliope” magazine (July/August 1991), which states, “Clowning is from deep inside; it is what the clown feels, or does or expresses that is important, not what is painted on or what he is wearing,” …. “there could be a danger perhaps with too much make up, or to gorgeous a costume that the fantasy figure becomes too inhuman, perhaps coming between you and the clown inside trying to get out.” Miriam says, “It is easier to see the love pour from your face.” She recognizes this concept is not readily accepted in the U.S.
“Rev. Absurd” has done a lot of clowning with “MAMEE” (last’s month featured clown) at a trauma center and with homeless women. Easter sunrise services on the Monument grounds, other church services, and work/play with church youth groups are other highlights. Other involvements have been with Phoenix Power and Light (a group that focuses on therapeutic clowning with a spiritual Christian focus), the Fellowship of Christian Clowns and Laugh Makers. Miriam’s characters also include “GONE FISHING,” “MIRI,” and “BLACK CLOUD” which find parallels in her studies of Native American learning.
“Rev. Absurd” does not consider himself to be an entertainer, he is a clown facilitator to people so they can actually participate in or BE the fun. He does not claim to have any skills or talents. While most clowns focus their energies on children, Rev. Absurd’s specialty is adults. We have ALL been children, but often we lose touch with that part of ourselves. Rev. Absurd has become a way of life for Miriam. He has helped her to enjoy living more. His unique perspective on the humorous side of life has influenced her, and those with whom she interacts, in a very positive way.
For the past two years, Miriam and Rev. Absurd have held a World Healing Meditation at their home; it is open to all those who are interested and is held simultaneously with many groups around the world. It is from 7:00 to 8:00 am on the last day of each month. Attendees are encouraged to bring a stuffed animal or another special character and join in a very powerful experience of affecting world healing and peace …starting from YOU.
For over a year, Miriam has been conducting groups that have an emphasis on the “inner child.” Currently her work in this area is with individuals. Using the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and other recovery programs for structure, the work facilitates accessing the true clown/the child/the magic in adults. Participants learn more about how to rely on their inner guidance while participating in kids games, artwork and other exercises.
Miriam and Rev. Absurd’s plans for the future include more healing, spirituality, and also clowning with pets through the Arlington County Humane Society.
It has been my honor to introduce Miriam, “Reverend C.C. Absurd” Wilson to you all. Not only is she a clown friend to me, but when I met her about a year ago upon my return from Hawaii she was a comfort to me and became a special part of my healing process. I know she and “Reverend C.C. Absurd” touch many lives in that way.