Boredom

It came as a surprise to learn that the words ‘bore’ and ‘boredom’ with their present meaning are of eighteenth century origin. Until then, apparently, no one suffered from ennui. They were weary or tired of life, disconsolate, found things flat, stale or unprofitable; but they were not bored. They had no time for boredom, being both too busy and too unused to regarding their own moods. Boredom comes in with leisure, wealth and the cultivation of sensibility. It is an affectation of the rich and pampered.

I think we must all be rich and pampered nowadays, for we are frequently bored. We are bored by wet Bank Holiday Mondays when anything that seems worthwhile is prevented by the weather. We are bored by what we see or read, by what we eat or drink, by the very people by whom we are surrounded. It is all boring, boring, boring.

Only, it isn’t. The trickle of rain down the window-pane is jewel-like in the way it reflects colour and light. That soft grey sky is a thousand different shades, and the way the wind soughs and sighs through the branches is like a violin playing a strange and beautiful sonata. Even the gleam of wet asphalt has its own unique loveliness.

Today you may be feeling a little disappointed, even a trifle cheated. We had hoped for sunshine and a dreamy summer’s day. Instead we’ve got cold and wet, a day more suitable for soups than salads. We know we cannot change the weather but, like anything else, we can change the way we view it. Boredom is one of those luxuries we can do without. The smell of wet dog here in the monastery reminds me that every day is potentially a good day, a day for exploring and discovering new things. Bro Duncan PBGV can preach a fine sermon just by being himself and taking things as they are. So can we.

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17 thoughts on “Boredom”

  1. I am roasting a chicken to set before a friend and her two children. I hope so anyway as she is tired to the point of exhaustion looking after not only her children (one with ASD one with dyspraxia) but also after her mother who has dementia and lives 40 miles away from her.
    Can I ask for prayer that this will be a pleasurable outing for her and not another chore and that they get here safely, please.

  2. What wonderful words and so true. There are always so many things to do and see and sometimes ‘boredom’ is being spoiled for choice and not knowing which one to choose, especially if our first option appears denied us. And I love the rain!!!

  3. This is a beautiful blog and so true. Dogs live in the now, and not the past or the future. They are taken up wholly by what is, untroubled by what might be. We have much to learn from them.

  4. Made me smile too, thank you. The raindrops are racing down the panes of my window as I type… and a wet day out is an excuse to do housework and paperwork #silverlinings

  5. So, so true. And I’ve noticed that as soon as the summer holidays start approaching magazines and papers are full of articles about how to keep the children amused. Many of them require an investment of time and money on the part of the parents; none of them suggest simply leaving the child to amuse itself, to use its own imagination, to play or read or whatever – which is what happened to me and so many others of my generation and earlier. I don’t remember ever being bored during the school holidays, or expecting my parents or my friends’ parents to create amusement and activities for me. I wonder what we have lost, what has been denied to later generations, by this current assumption that children need to be entertained by adults, activities, fun days out etc, and can’t simply be left to get on with entertaining themselves.

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  7. My two cats spent at least half an hour on my bed early this morning in deep concentration/ fascination watching the raindrops on my velux windows. So I did the same! So true, never boring to watch the clouds, especially when stormy and full of rain.

  8. Never boring to watch the many grey shades of the clouds. And certainly never boring to watch my big grey cat when he sits on the balcony wall – getting soaking wet in the pouring rain. He doesn’t mind getting wet – in fact he absolutely loves water. Drinking it, playing with the wet leaves and simply just sitting there on the wall with a view and getting wet. Not much of a chance of getting bored here. Besides – with a book within reach I could never get bored.

    Lovely blog. Sister. Thank you.

  9. Thank you for this….and for all the inspiring replies. I have been ill for some time now….not so ill that I am completely engulfed by pain, but ill enough that I wake up and my first thought is “damn….still feel awful”! It becomes a stretch to just start the little things….washing a few dishes and feeling the squishyness of the soap suds, today taking out garbage an re-discovering the marigolds that neede dead-heading 3 days ago. The boredom of being chronically ill is well known, probably to many on this list….and you’re right….even a very small glance at it from a slightly different viewpoint shifts it. There is much in the secular self-help type of literature that speaks to this, but if anyone has experience with similar works from the Christian perspective, I’d appreciate your recommendations. Thankyou Sister….and Brother Duncan PBGV ( and those initials stand for???). Your posts, for me, often act as rain drops on dry pavement.

  10. Well evidently there are different kind of boredoms. Mine concerns being with people for too long who have nothing at all to contribute in a conversation….who are just spying out your thoughts and my probably motives, like a nasty parasite…!
    An annoying waste of time, yearning to be spent on a million interesting other things for too long…And that’s what’s for me really boring…If you don’t mind the audacity…?

    • Passive boredom, being bored, rather than inflicting boredom on others, takes many forms, but I could never think of people as parasites. Maybe that’s how they think of me! 😉

  11. We had an exhibition of all of the talents in our parish church today. Rain or no rain, it was packed out. What was displayed was the multitude of talents that people have in a wide variety of topics from writing music to painting, sewing, knitting, baking, jam making and endless others.

    People came to exhibit, who are not regular attenders, but who we know personally through our living and working alongside them locally or membership of non-church organisations involved in the community. The aim was to fund raise for the Church, and we were delighted to meet dozens of new people, some who’d lived locally for many years, but had never ventured inside our doors before.

    This was an opportunity too good to be missed. And the organizer herself had been inspired by preaching on the parable of the Talents to start an Art Club in our church hall, and the results of her teaching and guidance were on display from practical painting, to woven crafts and hand made objects. Something about God’s word, inspiring one to share her ideas with others had prompted an enormous response. We/she went forward in faith and that faith wasn’t failed. The Holy Spirit is hard at work. Only time will tell if any of these new contacts will bear fruit, but evidence is that many who come or return to faith, do so through an unexpected meeting with someone whose quite faith and work lights something within them, which has been absent or dampened down till now.

    I pray that it is so.

  12. ‘Boredom’ can provide the time and space in which to create. Would the Bronte sisters have written their novels had they had television and the internet to fill the long hours of their quiet lives? The seeming boredom of hours, days and weeks unfilled and un-programmed, can provide the fertile ground for creativity and personal development.

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