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

Letters to Gus: “On Boredom”

Dear Gus,

Today was a half-day at school. These are typically trying days for you, for all of us here. You love playing with your friends so much, so when you leave school early and come home, sometimes you’re a little upset about that situation.

On days like these, Mom and I always have fun activities planned for you. This afternoon, we made pumpkins out of construction paper so that we’d be able to make the table pretty for our Thanksgiving dinner. After that, we sang songs while I played guitar. Your favorite songs! You picked ‘em and you sang ‘em while I strummed along and Mom brought in some harmonies (or attempted to anyway…we all did our best). Then, because it’s a rainy, cold day and we can’t go outside, you and Mom turned your whole room into a fort, using sheets and poles and clamps and rope. We set your bean bag chair in their along with a bunch of books and the iPad (which you are not currently grounded from…).

All of these activities got us to about 3:30, the time that you typically get home from school. At this point, you started to mope about the house and your voice turned a little whiney. Why? When I asked you, you said it was because you were “bored.”

Being bored is the worst, Gus! I do not like being bored. I’m with ya!

When I think about the times in my life when I’ve been truly bored, some kind of other feeling or emotion is usually the starting point for that boredom. Sometimes it’s anger, sometimes it’s frustration. In any case, being bored always seems to stem from my world not being exactly what I wanted it to be. The world just doesn’t seem quite right or doesn’t seem like what I expected or what I thought it should be.

Do you feel that way?

I’m guessing you do. The idea of school vacations is often troubling to you because it disrupts your daily schedule with your friends.

I don’t blame you, kiddo. Wouldn’t it be nice if everything went according to plan? Wouldn’t it be nice if we could count on the world working in exactly the way that we want it to?

Funny enough, it kind of does, but only if you pay attention. For example, do you think the sun will rise tomorrow? (I know that as soon as you read this, you’ll start to say that the sun doesn’t actually rise, that the rotation of the Earth on its axis—tilted at about 23°—causes what appears to be sunrises and sunsets and the passing of days. Bear with me, though, Mr. Science Guy.) It surely will, right? And it’ll continue doing so for the rest of our lives. What an amazing and reliable thing!

The cure for boredom, Gus, is to take note of the amazing world that God has created for us, a world that both obeys all of the rules (like the sun rising) while offering us surprises (like the unexpected beauty of a few snowflakes drifting to the earth on the eve of Thanksgiving). Have you ever really paid attention to what’s going on right outside our windows? If you pay attention and look long enough, you’ll see squirrels looking for food, cardinals and blue jays darting about the sky, people walking their dogs of every shape and size, and you’ll hear the music of the wind blowing through the trees.

When we start to pay attention to the world that God has made and we stop trying to make the world the way that we want it to be, it’s really hard to be bored.

We can do this together. The next time we feel bored, let’s first name the feeling that we are actually feeling: anger or frustration, for example. Then, let’s turn it around, make a good choice to notice how incredible the world is.

Deal? Deal!

In order to get rid of our boredom right now, let’s thank God for this gigantic turkey that he has blessed us with. Shall we cook it up and eat it? Sounds good!

Love,

Dad.

P.S.: How do you feel about dark meat? I’m a big fan of the leg. Wanna split it?

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