January 28, 2011

Cornucopia / Cynthia Dewes

Spell this time of year ‘B-O-R-I-N-G’ but good

Cynthia DewesThe New Year hoopla is past, and boring real life is at hand once again. We have had the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, of course, but that’s not really a super fun holiday. No gifts, no greeting cards, no candy.

Presidents’ Day is coming up in February, but that’s not exactly hilarious either. And Valentine’s Day seems far off. What to do, besides going to work every day, rotating the car tires, or feeding the birds?

Well, we could build a fire in the fireplace and enjoy a cozy evening in front of it, a lovely winter scene right out of Norman Rockwell. But that would entail hauling in the wood, fiddling with tinder and lighter, and then feeding the fire when it burns down. Seems like a lot of work.

We could watch TV, a more passive activity well suited to the season. But I ask you, how many gory forensics, mindless competitions and seriously unfunny comedies can we take? Think again.

We could clean out drawers and closets. But every time we try that, we end up engrossed all day in some long-forgotten letters we find or intimidated by the decisions necessary to save or to throw out. Not to mention the chagrin of assessing what still fits and what doesn’t, what to keep and what to give that cute Goodwill guy in the TV ads. No, that’s not a good idea.

We could get into a frenzy of cooking and baking, with an eye on the Food Network and Cook’s Illustrated. But there again, that would require all kinds of ingredients we don’t have on hand, and someone to eat it all. Remember the clothes we already need to give to Goodwill? Besides, we’re no Paula Deen or Rachael Ray—as if we cared.

We could read War and Peace or Great Expectations or some other classic that we’ve neglected for years. But would that be compatible with our Kindle or online versions? Or we could start keeping a journal. Fat chance, with nothing going on worth writing about at this time of year. Or maybe we could travel to visit family and friends—or just for pleasure. On second thought, forget the pleasure part if it involves flying.

Now, here’s a novel idea: We could go on a spiritual retreat. There is Our Lady of Fatima Retreat House and Saint Meinrad Archabbey and other retreat centers in our area offering such opportunities. And there are many books available to use for self-directed retreats. Retreats would certainly fit the quiet and solitude imposed by winter.

Failing that, we could work up a schedule of spiritual reading, Bible study and prayer. Nothing beats the subtle color and austere beauty of the winter scene outside, providing the perfect atmosphere for introspection.

We could work on our human relationships as well as our relationship with God. Maybe we could profit from a Marriage Encounter weekend. Maybe we could pick up the phone and call someone we haven’t taken the time to contact in years. Maybe we could just tell our loved ones every day that we love them. Sounds redundant and obvious, but by golly, it’s a life saver. Love is definitely something to be shared.

Perhaps we should relax and just “be.” We should listen to the silence and bask in the whiteness all around us. We should contemplate truth and beauty and just be content in God’s presence. Sometimes it’s good to be bored.

(Cynthia Dewes, a member of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Greencastle, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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