Posted February 07, 2011:
Guessing Ages and Weights

by Diane Kunz.

Over the years, on and off, Diane worked in her family’s carnival. In 1991, two years before she became an applicant at Madonna House, she worked there guessing ages and weights.

"Come on in! Try and fool the guesser! I’ll tell you how old you are and how much you weigh."

This is what I cry over the microphone at the carnival many times a day.

At present, I’m attempting to live the spirituality of Madonna House as a beggar in the marketplace of a carnival. I try to abandon myself, moment by moment, to God’s will, which is guessing people’s age and weight. I believe he has chosen me for this particular work.

I witness to my belief in this call by wearing a cross at all times. This is not usual for carnival people.

As I begin my "show" each day, my prayer is that I live the Gospel by treating everyone with dignity and love.

God has given me the grace to be quite good at the guessing game. I look deeply into people’s eyes, and I kind of read their lives there.

For example, people who are under a lot of stress can seem to be fifteen or twenty years older then they really are. I may be moved to suggest to them that they can let go of some of the over-control of their lives.

I have learned, too, that individuals who have been through much pain without becoming hardened or bitter actually have clearer eyes and appear younger than they are.

Here is my approach: When I am asked to guess someone’s weight, I have the person turn around slowly. Then it’s as if the scale (which they are standing on but I can’t see) becomes a part of me.

As I concentrate on the person, I "go into the depths of his or her heart" (a line from the Madonna House Little Mandate). I think, at this time, Christ is giving them something through me, though what that is remains a mystery to me.

My friends, the carnival people, are amazed at the size of the crowds that gather around my tent. In my mid-fifties, I am definitely not the typical, young, physically attractive guesser!

But people will stop and come my way when they hear my voice. Then after interacting with me, they often say, "You’ve made my day."

Sometimes people even seem to be looking for me. On one of these occasions, it turned out to be a grace for me.

This person was severely crippled with muscular dystrophy. As he was wheeled up to play my game, I touched and kissed him. I knew I had kissed Christ’s wound.

Once I saw a priest in a wheel chair waiting in line to play my game. I went to him, knelt down, and asked him for his blessing. I found out later that he was the bishop of the diocese! I don’t often get the bishop’s blessing for my work.

As I remain in the marketplace of the carnival, I pray that Christ will have his way with me and use me TO communicate his love to others. I cannot get to the Eucharist daily, so I offer this fasting for my apostolate.

I’m hidden among prostitutes and transients. I try to identify with them.

My life is simple. I never know for sure where my next bed will be, either in a truck or a trailer. Every week I take up my cross, go to another city, and start all over again. I know Our Lady, the Mother of God, and all the saints are with me.

Msgr. Robert McCarthy, known as "the carnie priest," ministered to the "carnies" (carnival workers) across the U.S. for many years. He said that Diane is the only carnival worker he ever knew or heard of who became a Catholic and joined a religious community.

From Restoration, April 1991


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