Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Peace Of Wild Things

When despair grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free. 
- Wendell Berry

Monday, May 9, 2016

Thoughts About A Bio Mom On Mother's Day

When I awakened on Sunday, Mother's Day, I found myself not only grateful for the wonderful mother my wife is to our two boys, but I also found myself thinking a great deal about Cava's biological mother. We know so little about someone who is so instrumental in the life of our family. 

So often on Mother's Day, we get so caught up in the celebration that we forget, for many, this is a day of sorrow. Many times throughout the day, my thoughts turned to a woman in Ukraine who I have never met but to whom I am so grateful. All I know is that in an act of heart-breaking love, she gave up her son in the hopes he would have a better life, a life she could not provide him. Yet in this act of unselfish love, how many times over the years has it caused her grief?

How many tears has she shed since that day?

How many times a day does she think about him and wonder where he is and how he is doing?

While Ukraine does not have Mother's Day, but has International Women's Day, is it still a painful reminder for her?

How painful is it for her to come across other women, mothers with their children, who are at play or showing affection for one another, and her heart aches a little more in what she will never again experience? 

Adoption carries both joy and sorrow. An adoptive parent must hold both of them within themselves. They know that the love they now have came at a great loss to another.  My heart was burdened for this woman today. 

There are those who might use the verse in Romans about how God works all things together for good in terms of adoption, but it's hard for me to; not because Cava's life isn't better now but because he will always carry the pain of loss, of abandonment, and of rejection throughout his entire life. It's also hard for me to apply this verse because I know that in another part of the world there's a woman who will always carry the pain of her sacrificial love inside of her. For her, every other mother with their child is a condemnation of her failure. 

I have shed tears for her pain and grieved for her grieving. 

She cannot kiss or hug her son. She cannot calm his fears at night and soothe him back to sleep. She cannot take care of him when he falls and scratches his knees or wipe away his tears. She cannot sing to him or say, "Я люблю тебе , мій сину (I love you, my son)."  

I have prayed for her a lot during this past Mother's Day.

I prayed because I could not hug her. I could not comfort her. I could not thank her.

I did what I could do: prayed. I prayed that God would do what I could not. I prayed that He would pour out His love and mercy and compassion and kindness on her. I prayed that He would comfort her in her times of loneliness, brokenness, and in her times of despair and pain. "Give her Your peace, Lord. Show her Your tender mercies."

While I was praying for this woman, I found myself thinking of one of my favorite children's books: Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree. Taking it off the shelf, I reread this beloved work and was deeply moved by its message. What struck me most was the following page:

I found myself crying for this Ukrainian mother who so loved a little boy, her little boy, even more than she loved herself. She unselfishly gave him up.

Then I began to think about and pray for any mother who did this act out of the hopes that their son or daughter would have a better life. I prayed for those who see this as a day they would most like to forget motherhood and this day is not a joyous one for them. I pray that God and those around them would show them such tenderness and compassion. I prayed for their healing: that Christ would show his mercy to a bruised reed and smoldering wick. That they would feel his embrace, his love and grace. 

I write this because I want those biological mothers to know, adoptive parents do think of you, pray for you, love you and wish that they could thank you. You are in our thoughts, prayers and hearts not only today but every day we look at our adoptive children and wonder whether they have your eyes or nose or laugh. 

We thank you that you gave them life and opportunity. 

You, though we may never meet you, are just as much a part of our families as these children.

We love you.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Cava On His Mom

One of my happiest days was when Mommy came to get me from the boarding school in Ukraine. I could not believe that I was going to have a Mommy to love and take care of me. 

At first it was hard because I didn't speak English and Mommy didn't speak Ukrainian. But Mommy was patient with me because she loved me. I had never had somebody love me before.

Mommy lets me sit in her lap and she hugs and kisses me. She calls me her "baby." I like that. I like being Mommy's "baby." I never had been before. Papa said she called me her "baby" the very first time she met me. That makes me happy.

Mommy loved me first. I didn't love her. I didn't know what love was. Or how to. But Mommy showed me what love was.

She spends time with me. She colors with me. She helps me with Legos. We watch The Flash together.

Mommy tucks me in at night and prays with me. She always asks me what I want for breakfast the next morning. She gets up and fixes it. My favorite is egg toast.

Mommy is always proud of me. 

I am so glad she is my Mommy.

I love you.


Thursday, May 5, 2016

God Our Mother

How many times have we heard children praying in their sing-song fashion, "God our Father. God our Father. Once again. Once again. Thank you for our blessing. Thank you for our blessing. Amen. Amen?" Would this change in our conscious and unconscious minds if "Father" was changed to "Mother?"

We are so familiar with the concept of God as Father but are we as comfortable with the image of God as Mother? Scripture supports both. The prophet Hosea spoke of God in this motherly image, "Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, I who took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with the chords of human kindness, with bands of love. I was to them like those who lift infants to their cheeks. I bent down to them and fed them" (11:3-4).

In a culture where one of the biggest problems is the lack of a father in a child's life, how much more would someone whose grown up either without a dad or has a negative experience with their father, respond to God not as a Father, but as a Mother?

If one looks at statistics, they will see that 85% of youth in prison grew up without fathers. With such a predisposition against the concept of father, they might find themselves more drawn to a God who is presented as, ". . . a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you . . ." (Isaiah 66:13). 

63% of youth suicides come from fatherless homes.

90% of homeless and runaway children come from fatherless homes.

If they cannot experience the love of an earthly father, how will they be open to the love of a heavenly Father? We cannot love what we do not know. 

And what of those who have experienced physical or sexual abuse at their father's hands?  Can they then even begin to open themselves to the hands of an unseen Father who is reaching out to them?  

The novelist Shusaku Endo wrote his book A Life of Jesus to present Christ to a Japanese culture that rejected the idea of a heavenly Father. Their perception of "father" was their "Emperor." Because of this, they could not accept a "stern father" but preferred "gods and Buddhas" as a "warm hearted mother." In his book he sought to present the "ind-hearted maternal aspect of God revealed to us in the personality of Jesus." That's why he tends to stress the merciful, compassionate side of Christ. As he writes of Jesus as being "well aware of something, also, namely, love's futility in the world of material values. He loved the unfortunate ones, yet he also understood that once even they came to know love's futility, they too would be turning against him. When all is said and done, the hard fact remains that human beings are on the lookout for practical and tangible results . . . Yet love is an act which in this visible world bears no direct correlation with tangible benefits." 

Endo is presenting a Jesus who is not there to promote his political and economic dreams but to love without ulterior motives, to love as a mother loves her child. In Japanese culture, mothers are seen as self-sacrificing, rejected, and suffering (hence Endo's connection to Christ the suffering servant). Fathers in Japanese culture are often reviled and mocked. They are viewed as stern and absent. Isn't that how many of us see God?

If throughout scripture, especially in the prophets, God is presented as a mother figure, why don't we see that within the Church? Is it do to the patriarchal structure that has been set up within the Church itself, even to downplaying the role of women in the very creation of the Church itself?  Are we afraid of the strength of the feminine within Christian culture? 

Yet from the beginning, in the very creation story itself, we are told that God made both man and woman in His image. The feminine is as much a part of his identity as the masculine. Too often we are presented with this image of a tribal, blood-thirsty God who is constantly angered and wrathful, but we forget those of his nurturing, tender motherly side. As Isaiah wrote of God, "Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not" (49:15). He is even more maternal than earthy mothers and cannot ever forget His children. 

In this culture that both praises mothers for breastfeeding and then shaming them when they do it in any type of public setting, are we comfortable with the image of God nursing us like a baby at his breast? Yet is there a more loving and gentle image of God than that? There's even the term the "milk of grace." How many wince at this? David didn't. I love how he wrote in the Psalms, "But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; my soul is like the child that is with me."

Those believers in the Middle Ages embraced this idea just as they were the bodily realism as Mary bearing Christ in her womb. Do we think of the unborn Christ who relied solely on his earthly mother to survive? She carried the creator of the universe in her womb. That ia a mind-blowing reality. As Saint Basil wrote of Mary, "Your womb He made more spacious than the heavens."

How can we not see how this stresses the importance of mothers. God could have chosen another way for His son to come into this world, but instead, He showed the sacredness of motherhood through Mary. 

Yet I think that is why we have too often focused on her as holy mother instead of God as this. We are more comfortable with an earthly mother than a heavenly one. Also, if God can be represented as mother, then we have to reevaluate how we esteem and value the role of women in this world.

Perhaps we do not value the image of God as mother in our churches because we, too often, do not value the role of women in them?  Which is odd since women make up 61% of church goers, to only 39% of men. 

If Christ, who we claim to follow, embraced, exhorted and raised up the role of women in his ministry, then why should we not do the same?  Why do we not embrace the mother-side of God? Even Jesus himself showed this when he lamented, "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing" (Matthew 23:37).

As we are approaching Mother's Day, I hope that we, as believers, take the time to stop and truly consider this image of God as mother so that we can see a God who is loving, nurturing, caring, vulnerable and tender towards us, but also so that we can ask ourselves, "How do we treat the women in our congregations?"

If we find ourselves uncomfortable with the image of God as mother, then we must ask ourselves how much we really value them?

If we are willing to embrace God the feminine, God the Mother, then I think we will find a healing within ourselves, within our churches because we will not split what was never meant to be split. We will find wholeness when we accept the wholeness of a God who is more gentle than a mother with her child, who loves us more than a mother does her child because God's love is unconditional and without end.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Awe & Mediatation: The Tree Of Life

I have loved the films of Terence Malick from the moment I first saw Badlands. This only deepened with viewings of Days of Heaven and The Thin Red Line. Though I have wanted to see The Tree of Life ever since it came out in 2011, I never got the opportunity to until I ordered the Blu-Ray for my birthday. 

The film won the Palme D'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, was hailed by critics, and is considered one of the greatest movies ever made. Roger Ebert even compared this film to 2001: A Space Odyssey.

It opens with some of my favorite lines from the book of Job, "Where were you when I laid the foundations of the Earth?"  It will be repeated later visually when the Mother, after the death of one of her sons, asks God, "Where were You?" The answer is a stunningly visual series of creation. 

An ambitious and vast meditation of a film. At times like a prayer as it contemplates the two ways of life: the way of nature and the way of grace. These two ways are portrayed by the Father (played by Brad Pitt) and the Mother (played by Jessica Chastain), as well as by two of the sons, Jack, and R.L. Jack, the oldest son, struggles with his nature and, while he's drawn to grace, finds himself,  like the Apostle Paul saying, "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." This is shown in segments as Jack finds himself thrust in with a group of boys where he has to prove his strength and that he's not afraid (though it is quite obvious that fear is one of the things he struggles most with). In voice-over, we hear Jack say, "Mother. Father. Always you wrestle inside of me." 

A devout Christian, Malick has made a film that is deeply theological and philosophical film, embracing the Bible as well as Kierkegaard and Heidegger. For Malick, time is not chronological but the past, present, and future all exist simultaneously and can fold back on themselves, so that he tells the story of the life of one family in Waco, Texas in a nonlinear form. Its poetic in the imagery and the way that repetition and visuals ebb and flow like the waves.

In many ways, this is kairos, God's time, and not ours. That is why we are shown the beginning of time as well as eternity.  In his Four Quartets Eliot wrote:

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps in time future,
And time future contained in time past

Like Four Quartets, The Tree of Life has movements and repeated themes that run throughout it. Much like T.S. Eliot does in his Four Quartets, Malick uses film to meditate on time, mortality, faith, doubt, love, forgiveness and grace. This requires more from the viewer, who cannot be passive to appreciate such a contemplative film. This is not mere entertainment, but a rumination on the nature of life and of God. Not your typical film fare and this is far from most mainstream movie releases. 

It has often been compared to 2001: A Space Odyssey because of its ambition, but I see it more closely linked to a film like Andrei Tarkovsky's The Mirror, also a nonlinear film that tells the story of a boy's relationship to his absent, poet father and his lonely mother.  Both films rely on voice-over and imagery rather than traditional narrative, plot structure, and character development. 

Both Malick and Tarkovsky are more interested in poetry, theology, and imagery of film. Like The Tree of Life, The Mirror is about how history repeats itself  through cycles of love and nature passed by generations both seen through the eyes of a boy, adolescent and grown man (all the same person). 

Dreams and memories are all apart of his life with as much meaning as reality, since the latter is shaped and formed by the other two elements. 

Both filmmakers draw from their own lives for these sublime masterpieces. Both are exquisite meditative journeys that draw in the viewer to make sense of the metonymy, ellipsis, and aposiopesis. These require the audience to move past traditional film watching where one passively sits there to not think but to be entertained. Instead, it's the audience who must make the connections and to see more deeply into what is unfolding onscreen before them. It is a rich and profound work that rewards those who are willing to undertake it. Many, however, will be put off by the film, so much so that when the movie was originally released, there were theaters who posted this at the box office:

This is cinema as art. There are frames of this film that could hang on the walls of any major museum and even bares resemblances to works by artists like Andrew Wyeth. I was even struck by how much Jessica Chastain resembled Helga, Andrew Wyeth's favorite subject. 

The gorgeous cinematography was done by Emmanuel Lubezki (whose work can be seen in films like Gravity, Birdman, and The Revenant). 

This film ranks up there in the tradition of the works of Andrei Tarkovsky and Krzysztof Kieslowski. To call this film impressionistic and spiritual is to simplify the depth of it. There is such beauty and mysticism in this work that it challenges us. This film, like Tarkovsky's, does not just translate life into film, it transforms it.

 It is a rare work of beauty, power, and poetry. 

As the Mother (Chastain) tells her sons, "Help each other. Love everyone. Every leaf. Every ray of light." Malick's film does just that and I am thankful for it.

Here is the amazing trailer for the film:

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Silence: Endo's Masterpiece & Fujimura's Meditation

While in graduate school I read Shusaku Endo's spare and elegant novel Silence for the first time. This masterpiece had a profound impact on me that would last all these years as I wrestled with the questions that this work asked and it was unsettling how inconclusive I was in asking them of myself. 

For those who've never read Silence, Endo's story centers on a young Jesuit who's sent to Japan to investigate whether or not his mentor committed apostasy. What Rodrigues, the young Jesuit, learns is the truth of the Kakure Kirishitan (Hidden Christians)  whom officials root out and take anyone suspected of being a believer out in front of their village. There, they force them into stepping on a fumi-e (the bronze image of Christ) as a way of not only renouncing their faith but to shame them so that others will not believe. Those who refuse are either imprisoned or killed by anazuri (hanging them upside down over a pit and slowly burned alive).  

This is a real fumi-e worn smooth by all the many who had stepped on it

The illusion of the glory of martyrdom is stripped from Rodrigues as he witnesses this. Worse, he learns that Ferreira, his mentor, and other priests were told to either renounce their faith or watch as those believers were tortured and killed before them. The novel wrestles with doubt, shame, betrayal, and traumas' effects on faith. 

This was one of those great masterpieces that made me ask myself, "What would I do in that situation? Would I renounce my faith in Christ to end the torture and suffering of others?" 

These questions haunted me long after I had read this book. The more I ruminated on the painful, difficult questions of what am I willing to endure or have those around me endure for faith, the more I had to look at my own heart. To face the darkness of my own doubts. This came at a time when, having grown up in extremely conservative and fundamentalist churches, I had been taught that to doubt was to sin and so I wrestled with doubts in fear of what they meant.  

In his new meditation on Shusaku Endo's masterpiece, Makoto Fujimura writes how Endo exposes the flaw in this line of thinking. "It does not express faith in God but instead faith in clarity and, as one of my friends puts it, 'our lust for certainty.' Faith can be rational, but only after a deeper journey toward mystery and transcendence."

Most of us do not like to sit with our doubt and want only to dismiss it, but both Endo's novel and Fujimura's new work make us face truths we don't like facing. Fujimura, who lived only a few blocks from the Twin Towers, writes of the trauma 9/11 had on his own faith. How it drove him to wrestle and try to come to grips with other horrors, such as Hiroshima. As he writes, "People experiencing trauma often do not dare to ask, because we know no answer will come back, only silence."

We don't like silence. We like to have the answers. It unsettles and unnerves us not have them. 

As Endo writes in his novel:

I suppose I should simply cast from my mind these meaningless words of the coward; yet why does his plaintive voice pierce my breast with tall the pain of a sharp needle? Why has Our Lord imposed this torture and this persecution on poor Japanese peasants? No, Kichijiro was trying to express something different, something even more sickening. The silence of God. Already twenty years have passed since the persecution broke out; the black soil of Japan has been filled with the lament of so many Christians; the red blood of priests has flowed profusely; the walls of churches have fallen down; and in the face of this terrible and merciless sacrifice offered up to Him, God has remained silent.

Both Shusaku Endo and Makoto Fujimura are outsiders who do not fit in within their cultures (Endo was a Christian in Japan and Fujimura is a Christian in the art world. Both cultures are unwelcoming towards faith). Yet in both men, this being the outsider has given them a wider perspective to objectively assess and address the cultures they're alienated from. It gives both "a language of hiddenness, of empathy, and visual beauty" they would not have otherwise.

Too often, in our consumer culture we only want mere entertainment. Entertainment comes from the Greek words meaning "to come between." Our entertainment is used not to enlighten or to cause us to question and think more deeply, but to keep us from doing exactly that. I have heard it said, "When I watch a movie, I don't want to have to think. I just want to be entertained." It is very much a fast-food approach to art and culture. But art should reveal "the power of the intuitive, capturing the reality hiding beneath the culture" (Fujimura). That's why, when we read a book like Silence, it strikes us so hard and shatters the illusions we like to hide behind in our entertainment. 

In reading Silence, I am confronted by my own duplicity, my own weaknesses, my own doubts and fears. I am caused to question, "What would I do?" It's one thing to read a verse like Romans 8:18, "I consider our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed to us," but it's another to live that out when believing could cost not only your lives, but the lives of others. This is a very real fact of believers in many countries around the world where martyrdom is a cold, brutal reality. 

To witness just such actions, such as these beheadings of believers by Islamic terrorists, makes me read Endo's words with a better understanding:

I do not believe that God has given us this trial to not purpose. I know that the day will come when we will clearly understand why this persecution with all it's sufferings has been bestowed upon us -- for everything that Our Lord does is for our good. And yet, even as I write these words I feel the oppressive weight in my heart of those last stammering words of Kichijiro in the morning of his departure: "Why has Deus Sama imposed this suffering on us?" and then the resentment in those eyes that he turned upon me. "Father", he had said "what evil have we done?"

Makoto Fujimura grapples with these questions as he makes a pilgrimage back to the what is now known as Martyr's Hill in Japan. In so doing, he begins to confront his own identity as an artist, as someone who struggles with belonging and with culture, with expressing his faith in Christ-hidden cultures, whether they be Japan or the art world. 

His book is beautiful and thought-provoking. It moves through both Japanese culture and aesthetics masterfully, all the while wrestling with the underpinnings of belief and what does that mean for someone who wants to create meaningful art that has an impact on those who encounter it. One of my favorite lines in his book says, "Deep communication can only take place through a path of vulnerability." This is exactly what he is doing in this book. Fujimura's vulnerability in writing of his own painful experiences allows the beauty to come through of how he had "studied the arts of unbelief" (as William Blake wrote of Albion in his poem Jerusalem) and how it was that very poem which led Fujimura to the reality of Christ.  

By having encountered Silence, Fujimura understands that a "willingness to spend time truly seeing can change how we view the world, how moving us away from "superficially scanning what we see" so that we can begin to "delve below the surface." That is where great art is born and that is where faith truly begins to mature and grow. We must confront the silence that we so fear. As Henri Nouwen wrote, " . . . it is precisely in silence that we confront our true selves." That is what Endo exposes in his novel, that is what Fujimura ruminates on his work. 

Both Shusaku Endo and Makoto Fujimura are more concerned with going deeper, understanding that to contemplate the very things most of us try to ignore, are what lead to wisdom.  

I came away from Endo's novel with questions that made me confront myself and my faith. I came away from Fujimura's Silence and Beauty realizing that I was not the only one. He helped me to see more than just another perspective on Silence but something much larger, richer and a wider perspective on Endo the man and artist, on Fujimura the man and artist, but Japanese culture and art, the hidden shame of those who are the "children of failed faith," and of the "paradoxes and the mystery of suffering," and ultimately of the light that is there even in the darkness, the beauty in the brokenness. 

Silence and Beauty is a profound book that asks us to confront suffering and at the same time be confronted with the sublime beauty of grace.  

Makoto Fujimura's "Silence Kairos"

Here's Makoto Fujimura talking about Beauty and Silence:

Academy Award winning director Martin Scorsese has adapted Endo's novel into a film to be released in late 2016. It stars Liam Neeson, Andrew Garfield, and Adam Driver.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Note To My Sons On What I've Learned So Far

Yesterday was my birthday. While working in one of my stores, someone I know wished me "Happy Birthday" and, as we were talking, asked me, "What have you learned from the years you've lived so far that you want to pass on to your sons?" Not the usual conversation one has with co-workers, but then I never have the usual conversation with anyone. My first thought on hearing this was, "HEY! I only turned 48, I'm not Joseph on his deathbed offering sage advice to his loved ones." But the more I thought about what she'd asked, the more I paused to reflect on what exactly would I pass on to my boys.

It was only as I sat in the car line at school to pick up Cava that I began to put words to paper.  While this is hardly King Solomon writing down his Proverbs, here is what I came up with:

- God made us creators, not consumers. Live in that.

- Never lose your sense of wonder.

- Delight in play no matter how old you are.

- You are not a failure if you fail but only if you quit.

- You were fearfully and wonderfully made. This means you should celebrate your quirks and your uniqueness as they are a gift from God not a curse.

- Pursue joy and contentment over happiness and pleasure.

- Think beyond the moment. Consider your choices in terms of generational thinking.

- Your purpose is to praise, not popularity. Seek God's glory, not your fame.  Character is more important than celebrity. Wealth and fame only deepen insecurities they don't erase them.

- Spend more time praying for others' needs than your wants.

- All honesty should be tempered with compassion. Offer your hand more than your opinion.

- Gentleness is not weakness.

- There is no such thing as a "real man." Focus on being a "godly man." The "real" in that is called authenticity. We need more of those and less of the world's "real men."

- Be mindful of the grace God has shown you that you might extend that same grace to others. This means choosing the path of peace over power, mercy over might, and humility over hubris.

- Be hopeful, not hurtful. You may be the difference in another's life.

- Our culture objectifies women. You should edify them. When looking for a girl to date and, even more so, to marry, look for one who is able to make you think, who challenges you by her own intelligence and gifts, who balances you out.

- Know that real love (not the kind in movies and TV) is sacrifice. View that as a gift, not a hardship.

- Don't be afraid to be vulnurable. To be vulnerable with another person is a spiritual act.

- Be guided by Christ and not culture.

- Seek real community. Real connection comes over deep conversations, not likes on social media. One of the greatest gifts you can give someone is your presence. Be present. Be a good listener.

- Choose hospitality over hatred.

- See the holy in the daily. There is no act too small that you can't do it to the glory of God.

- Attend to place. Pay attention to the world around you or else you might miss the miraculous beauty God has created for those who take the time to notice it.

- Be still. Find moments of solitude.

- Find patience. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit and, like all fruits, does not grow overnight. It must be tended and nurtured first. Have patience for yourself as well as for others.

- Your biography will always reveal your theology.

- Don't be afraid to doubt or question. Doubt is not unbelief, it is just trusting even when one doesn't have the answer.

- Know that hurts are going to come along in life. That's a given. But use them, use your brokenness to have empathy and compassion for others. Remember every one has their own stories and their own struggles. When we stop and listen, we begin to understand.

- Live a thoughtful life.

- Lastly, if someone offers you a paper crown: Put it on! Immediately! Don't think about it, just put that crown on! Yes, you will look silly but so what? Looking silly may put the smile on the face of someone who desperately needs it.

That is what I would offer my sons from my forty-eight years.