I can be pretty shameless. Throughout the week I will sort of casually stroll through the school yard, as if I am just fulfilling some sort of canonically required parish grounds blessing (maybe I should bring along a bottle of holy water along just to make it look more believable), then I “unexpectedly” come across a class of students sitting around on the grass. With my biggest puppy-priest eyes I say, “Hey, what’s going on here? Is that ice-cream?” You’ve heard of wedding crashers. This is better.
More than anything picnic-crashing gives me some necessary closure to the school year. There is a bit of a grieving process that I experience as the last school bus rolls out of the parking lot for the summer. I need to offer a proper final good-bye.
On Thursday we will celebrate the last all-school Mass for the school year. In past years I have tried to think of some words that I could share with the students to inspire them or to rouse their spirits. This year I might try a different approach. Maybe this year at the last school Mass I will preach a long… boring… homily.
I figure it will be good preparation for the children. How long do you suppose it will be, once school gets out, before the students start complaining, “I’m bored”? As difficult and as frustrating as boredom can be, for the children and parents alike, one of the greatest gifts that the children will receive this summer is the blessed absence that boredom represents. I leave you a new beatitude: blessed are the bored.
Boredom is a lost art form. How often we pass our days as if we have an absolute birthright always to be entertained. It is as if we expect life or the world or even God to tap-dance up to our easy chair with something that will thrill us without making any sort of effort ourselves.
Parents, when your children tell you that they are bored, whisper a little prayer of thanksgiving to God. It is through boredom that we get our first taste of humility. It is where we learn to overcome passivity and spiritual paralysis. We grow to pay attention to deeper longings and holier promptings. Boredom prepares us for authentic reverence. It is the portal through which we first peer into the mystery. When your child is bored, God is drawing near.
I think of that sometimes when I hear somebody say that Mass is boring. I imagine the person surrounded by a host of angels beckoning them to please just still the heart for a moment to gaze into a wondrously deeper dimension of life.
So thanks be to God for the consummation of another school year – and for all that the children have experienced and learned. Thanks to the teachers too for their loving gifts. Now we commend them to the God of summer knowing that the season ahead has in store for them some important lessons and blessings from God that they will receive in no other way.