Sunday, December 17-Third Sunday in Advent
Pilgrim Congregational Church
15 Common St, Southborough, MA 01772

Letters to Gus: “Be Joyful”

Dear Gus,

A few years ago, when you were a bumbling and stumbling little two-year-old, you and I ended up at home, just the two of us, on Father’s Day. You know what happens on Father’s Day, right? The final round of the U.S. Open! I told Mom that no matter what I would be sitting in front of the television watching golf, even if it meant that you were left unattended. Some dad I am, huh?

That day, I gave you a plastic golf club and you sat with me in the living room, watching the U.S. Open, club in hand. Every now and then, the T.V. would show a slow-motion swing of one of the players—Rory McIlroy or Justin Rose or Dustin Johnson—and you would stand up and mimic that swing. Then you’d go outside with the dog and knock a little plastic ball all over the backyard. You’d tee the ball up, stand next to it, look over your shoulder at the target—just like the pros—and then you’d rip it from one end of the backyard to the other and yell, “In the hole!”

In the months that followed, Mom and I took videos of you doing this. We still have them and sometimes, when you’re upstairs asleep, we watch old videos of you doing things like this. Sometimes you’re playing golf, sometimes you’re hitting a baseball, strumming on a guitar, or eating rice and beans and guacamole and making a total mess of it. I even have one video where you are wearing a Grover winter cap and you’re singing Christmas carols with one of my classes.

Whatever you’re doing in these videos, one things stays the same in all of them: the little sparkle in your eye as you take full enjoyment in whatever that moment’s activity is.

This is important. Why? Because when you grow up, sometimes you lose that ability to enjoy the moment. You become fixated on what’s next—going to work, paying bills, getting kids to and from school or baseball practice or whatever. For some reason, as we grow up, we sometimes fall into a trap, thinking that life is something that we have to do rather than something that we get to do. We stop experiencing the world as it comes and instead focus on the world as we think it’s meant to be or as it should’ve been.

Here’s my piece of advice: Take the world as it comes and enjoy it. Honestly, there’s no alternative, even though we might sometimes pretend that there is.

God made this world for us to enjoy. According to many ancient stories, including the very beginning of the Hebrew Bible, God gave us this world to take care of. At one point, one of the writers in the Bible even tells us that our chief job is to enjoy life.

When you were a small child, you excelled at enjoying life. You still do! As you get older and you start to feel the responsibility of adolescence and adulthood, of school and work, of friends and family, as things get more and more complicated and you’re not always sure what should be first or most important, remember to enjoy life. Find that little gleam in your eye that says: “Nothing matters more than this thing that I’m doing right here and right now. I am blessed to be doing it, no matter what others may think, and I will be joyful no matter what.”

Love,

Dad.

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