By Judith Costello, Unwind Studio
Katende Andrew is a seminarian from Uganda who is starting a foundation to help impoverished and neglected children get an education. He’s the “St. Don Bosco” for poor children in his country! Don Bosco gathered up orphan children off the streets of Italy (1818-1888). He found a way to help them learn and flourish without being a harsh task master. Instead, he made his students laugh even in difficult circumstances and in spite of the meager offerings he could provide for them. They learned to have great fun together.
That “Don Bosco style” is needed for our young people, not only in Uganda, but around the world today! The saint once said, “Enjoy yourselves as much as you like, if only you keep away from sin.” But in today’s world fun seems to equal sin among young people. When Katende posted this quote on Facebook, a young person wrote, “How can you enjoy yourself as much as possible without sinning? Let me say when it comes to lots of food, partying and you can mention the rest (of the things that are ‘fun’)?”
From children in high school to young people in college, the reports of sin/fun are increasingly exponentially to include drinking to “get smashed”, various new drugs, anonymous sex, serial partners and experimentation of many kinds.
Somehow we need to wake people up: This is not fun!! Such things lead to illness, STDs, severe depression, abortion, and hopelessness. That equates to death and destruction not fun and happiness.
The refreshing beauty of how Don Bosco lived and taught is that he knew what real happiness is all about. There is truth that can be known and the truth is: real happiness and enjoyment only comes from being physically, mentally and spiritually challenged, AND from relating to others in more than a superficial, “selfie/text me” way.
Young people need to learn this. And they need to know that if they’ve been confused and already made really bad choices, they can start now to turn that around. Make better choices. Find out what is real. God is waiting to offer help!
So here’s a short list of Real Fun Things. Let’s keep adding and adding. I’d like to paper a wall with the truth about fun!! How long can the list be?
Play soccer, football, basketball, baseball. The physical body needs a workout!
Read a classic novel. (Avoid the modern, or at least the trashy modern stuff.)
Visit a Church and spend over 20 minutes in prayer! Really once you start the time will fly.
Sit at a coffee shop and talk through the night. Solve the world’s problems. Come up with an end to poverty. Come up with a solution to cancer or homelessness.
Do an art project! Find a photo from your life. Study it. Then paint it!
Do an art project with friends. Bring out a piece of canvas, markers and paint. Ask everyone to add something. Let the laughter begin.
Go for a drive just to look at the sky. Find beauty everywhere.
Put your head on a friend’s belly. When they laugh, you’ll laugh!
Watch children. Do what they do.
Watch animals. Do what they do. (Hint: they sleep a lot. But when they’re awake, they are very aware of everything.)
Dress up in fun clothes. Create new clothes. Don’t be afraid….cut that old tee-shirt.
Watch the stars. Count them.
Go to bed alone…enjoy the feel of the sheets. Say prayers of gratitude.
Dance the night away…(just avoid the hyper-sexualized modern dancing.) Try Jewish folk dance or polka or Two-Step.
Play a kazoo!
Enjoy music. Go to a special concert (where the artists don’t cuss.)
Go somewhere new. Smile at everyone. Strike up conversation with strangers.
Have fun. Avoid sin. Find beauty. Yes…That all goes together.
Now add to the list.
They say that before he died Don Bosco said, Tell the boys I’ll see them all in Paradise.” He was raising saints for the wonders of eternity.
The site by Katende Andrew is http://www.donboscochildrenuganda.org.