by Father Mark Goldasich
Sometimes, I feel like Charlie Brown.
Remember where Lucy, holding a football, invites Charlie Brown to come and kick it? Just as he gets there, though, she yanks it away, leaving the poor guy flat on his back.
Several weeks ago, the Leaven staff came up with a great idea. Each of us would suggest five activities to our readers on how to make this pandemic time or the upcoming season of Lent more fruitful. Then, we’d compile all of those suggestions in a nice, attractive package. I was so excited to be included!
Then came the “Lucy and the football” moment. First, I was told that a couple of my ideas were already taken by another staff member, so I’d have to think of something else. Next came the ultimate blow: While the others got their ideas beautifully displayed in this week’s center spread on pages 8 and 9, sadly — I was informed — there was no room for mine.
Alas, my apparently unworthy suggestions are shuffled here to page 14. (Actually, before you start sending letters of sympathy to me or of protest to the rest of the staff, realize that this was how we’d planned it all along.)
In addition to the wonderful ideas of Anita, Todd, Joe and Moira, I add these:
• Journal. This is just a fancy word for writing down your thoughts. All that you need is a notebook, and it doesn’t need to be fancy. Then, well, start to fill it in. You may want to write about how you’re dealing with the pandemic on a certain day or paste a photo on the page and explain what it means to you or compose a prayer or poem if you’re so moved. Let your creative spirit loose.
• Learn or relearn a musical instrument. There are plenty of instructional videos online, especially if you’re a little rusty or just a beginner. Playing a musical instrument keeps life melodious and harmonious.
• Do puzzles. No matter what kind you choose — jigsaw puzzles, Jumble, KenKen, Sudoku and Nonograms, to name a few — they’ll keep you anchored in the present moment and give you a sense of accomplishment when completed. To add some Catholic learning to the mix, try Matt Swaim’s “Catholic Puzzles, Word Games and Brainteasers,” available on Amazon.
• Walk the Camino de Santiago. I’ve always been fascinated by this 480-mile pilgrimage, which ends in Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Fascination, however, doesn’t mean I’d actually consider doing it . . . until now. I just registered for it a couple of days ago. Seriously! By Googling “conqueror camino,” I discovered that I can complete it virtually. Tracking my exercise on this site moves me along the actual Camino and includes all kinds of other cool elements. Check it out online.
• Color. Remember the excitement of opening up a new box of crayons? Well, you don’t have to be a kid to relive that. Read Sybil MacBeth’s “Praying in Color” to learn more. Or head to Amazon and search “adult Catholic coloring books” for a variety of choices.
While these suggestions and those in the center spread are helpful in a time of pandemic — or in the Charlie Brown moments of life — the most succinct advice to follow comes from none other than Snoopy who said, “Keep looking up. . . . That’s the secret of life.”
Yes, the best thing we can ever do is indeed the simplest: Look up and pray.