The other way is the way of charity, clarity…and hilarity
Have we never experienced the tender reproof of a father who gently directs his child away from that which will harm him?
Haven’t we known that the same father who must discipline the child can also tickle him?
Have we never experienced the strong but gentle formation of a child by his father in complete love, happiness and affection?
Have we never known the voice of the loving father who sees his child doing something low, base and squalid and says, “Here now my son. You are better than that!”
Is it impossible to imagine that a father might discipline–even heavily–a recalcitrant child for that child’s own good, and that he would do so with tears in his own eyes one moment and laughter the next?
This is the sort of father I had and the sort of father I wish to be.
Why is it that I get a feeling that what is being promoted in the church is not this ideal, but a counterfeit form of tenderness which avoids reproof at all costs, tiptoes around correction and calling for “welcome” takes the weak way out?
Surely the way is to embrace charity, clarity and hilarity.
Maybe that’s one of God’s little earthly Holy Trinities: Clarity enlightens the mind. Charity warms the heart. Hilarity tickles the spirit.
In other words, we need tenderness and teaching, affection and correction, guidance and goodness, warmth and welcome while we also offer a witness and warning…and all of it should be served up with some laughter, cheerfulness and joy.
I have found this combination most powerfully as a Benedictine oblate. The best monks I have known have shown a tender toughness. They have been gentlemen of the Spirit–not compromising one bit of the faith, but always applying it with humility, humanity and humor.