The days are shorter, so lighten up

Father Mark Goldasich is the pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Tonganoxie. He has been editor of the Leaven since 1989.

by Father Mark Goldasich

After hearing some foul language and watching a bowler on the lane next to me kick the ball return in frustration, I thought to myself, “Now, here’s somebody who can use Nov. 14!”

I wanted to remind the guy that we’re not on the pro bowlers’ tour. We’re in a Monday night mixed league in Lawrence, for Pete’s sake. But I thought that night wasn’t the best time to bring that up. I kind of like my teeth inside my mouth.

So, what’s the big deal with Nov. 14? Surely, everyone knows that it’s LuLu Day, right? Just in case you’re one of the millions on this planet unfamiliar with this celebration, LuLu is short for Loosen Up, Lighten Up Day.

And, boy, do most of us need that! A prime candidate is the German woman in the following story:

Maria Brunner, of Poing, Germany, was married to an unemployed husband. As the mother of three children, she supported them by cleaning other people’s houses. 

Even without a job, her husband managed to rack up $5000 worth of unpaid parking tickets. The husband kept the tickets a secret. As owner of the car, however, Maria was responsible for them. She couldn’t pay the fine and, unless her husband could come up with the money, Maria would spend three months in jail.

She welcomed the thought. “I’ve had enough of scraping for a living,” said Maria. “As long as I get food and a hot shower every day, I don’t mind being sent to jail. I can finally get some rest and relaxation.”

Police reported that Maria repeatedly thanked them for arresting her. (Adapted from “1001 Illustrations That Connect,” edited by Craig Brian Larson and Phyllis Ten Elshof.)

In a very unscientific poll I conducted, nine out of 10 people said their lives were stressful. (And that tenth person, I’d bet, was a liar!) 

It’s symptomatic of the world that we live in today. We’re so busy rushing from one thing to the next that we forget what’s really important and to be cherished. 

Is it any wonder, then, that those of us who live in the First World, with all of its conveniences and blessings, still find ourselves unsatisfied and wanting something more? 

And with the crush and craziness of the holiday season looming — “What do you mean there are only seven more Mondays till Christmas?” — we need LuLu Day more than ever.

How can you celebrate Lighten Up Loosen Up Day this year? Here are some quick suggestions:

• Attend Mass. Yes, there are Masses at times other than the weekend. Weekday Masses are simpler and quieter and can lighten your burdens.

• Make time to cook and enjoy a family meal, followed by a movie or game night.

• Take a break from the news, social media, the smartphone and email.

• Relax with a good book or hobby. 

•Try something new, like a painting class, a trip to a theater production, yodeling or whatever interests you never make time for.

• Get moving. Take a walk outside, visit a gym or go dancing.

• Spend some time in a quiet church to drink in the silence and rest with the Lord.

• Meet up with a friend for an unhurried meal.

Since Nov. 14 is on a Thursday (and most of us have to work), at least consider a few hours in the evening for keeping LuLu Day this time around. 

In the future, you might want to designate Nov. 14 each year as a mental health day and plan on taking time off from your normal duties just to celebrate life.

See what happens to your mind and heart celebrating LuLu Day. And, if you enjoyed loosening up and lightening up, try doing it each week on the Sabbath. Really.

The Trappist monk Thomas Merton said it best: “Happiness is not a matter of intensity, but of balance and order and rhythm and harmony.”

Get it on your calendar now, before you forget, to cut loose and see the light on Nov. 14.

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