The Hope of Boredom

Once a week, my yoga teacher begins class with a short talk about what she is learning. Poetry books, magazine articles, and her family all are the humus for her fruitful sharing. Yesterday she talked about the challenge of being liberated from being tied to her cell phone. She mentioned how odd it was for her to be in the orthodontist waiting room and choosing not to check her phone. She said it was boring, that she was the only parent not looking at her phone.

It took me back to my years of mothering and waiting rooms. Yes, there was life before cell phones, and I traversed it without a thought of discomfort. But today it would be odd to not take my cell phone to the dentist. I like my phone near by when I am out of the house. It gives me something to do. Always.

The moment that lingered after class was when Jen said how thrilled she was when her daughter, who had a friend over to play the day before, said, “I’m bored!” I don’t think I was ever thrilled as a mom when I heard that sentence. Jen was grateful for their boredom, knowing that that experience is where creativity is birthed.

I took a quick inventory of my days and realized this: I have not valued boredom! I have a to-do list that most likely won’t run out until I die. Seriously, I have so many things I want to do and plan to do and need to finish that I have prided myself in not struggling with boredom.

I think I have embraced the wisdom of being quiet and still. I begin my days alone with my first hallowed cup of coffee quietly reading scripture, praying, and gazing at the eastern horizon. I try and have a cup of tea quietly on the south side of our home in the afternoon while being quiet and looking out to the south. New imaging technology substantiates the neurological need for our brains to recharge through meditation or quiet. Though quiet and stillness are already part of my routine, being open to boredom adds a new twist and gives insight to what might be lacking in my day.

Last month our pastor challenged us to read scripture and to sit in a quiet closet for twenty minutes. Confession: I only did it once. I hated it! Since then, I have not even tried to do it. Why? You guessed it: I was bored. My boredom came when I did not feel productive. I had even said to myself that I could sit in the closet later in the afternoon, because there were so many things to do in the morning. But I never did. I don’t like sitting in a dark closet.

Pastor Dave was right when he said that those twenty minutes would be the hardest part of my day. I sat in my room this morning with a blindfold on, and that was easier, but I am still pondering: what’s with the dark closet that makes it so hard?

Matthew 6:6-15 in The Message reads, “Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.

“Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right;
Do what’s best—
as above, so below.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You’re in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You’re ablaze in beauty!
Yes. Yes. Yes.”

I love how that reads. I had never read the Lord’s Prayer in The Message. I love how Jesus has used my yoga teacher, pastor, even current neuroscience reading for The Allender Center abuse and trauma training to tease me with boredom. I love that Jesus has gotten my attention loud and clear to offer a meager sacrifice of twenty minutes a day to hear Him. It doesn’t sound like much, but given that I have failed for two weeks to succeed I need to acknowledge it is a big deal.

A part of John Eldredge’s daily prayer reads: “Dear God, holy and victorious Trinity, you alone are worthy of all my worship, my heart’s devotion, all my praise and all my trust and all the glory of my life. […] I confess here and now that it is all about you, God, and not about me. You are the Hero of this story, and I belong to you.”

If that is my confession than I humbly write that I am trying this again. I am trying to find, as our pastor said, that twenty minutes a day in a dark closet will become the very best part of my day. Here goes to boredom, to quiet and to listening. Listening for His voice and care and delight for me.