Praying our Boredom
The little boy was practicing his three-point shots. His shoulder tensed, his arm perpendicular to his elbow. He focused for a few seconds, snapped his wrist and made the shot. The ball soared through the air in a perfect curve and entered the Tabernacle!
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“Making three-point shots!” The small fellow answered confidently.
“Inside the chapel?”
“I’m only making-believe, Father,” he smiled.
“But wouldn’t you want to try that out for real in the gym with your friends?”
“Nope,” his expression suddenly became sad.
“I’m bored, Father.”
“Precisely, you won’t get bored by playing with them.”
“I’m not as good as them,” he pouted.
“Practice makes perfect, right?”
“Then, can I practice with Jesus for a few minutes?”
“Sure thing, dude!”
I left the chapel amusedly enlightened.
* * *
In a materially- and ego-centered world, boredom is a common past time among the young and not-so-young. The easy gratification and been-there/done-that mindsets have emptied the person of any further desires to strive for deeper spiritual adventures. The result is being bored with people and life itself.
Boredom sounds like a casual-sounding reality. But it is actually a sophisticated camouflage for sadness. Like sadness stemming from not possessing what we desired, boredom is having lost track of what one’s true good and end are. One’s material overindulgence has clouded his capacity to perceive this true good.
When one’s physical needs have been hyper-satiated, the exhausted person buckles down into the void of ‘no act-no think’ called boredom. At its deepest, sadness lurks at the bottom of boredom. What can we do to arrest it?
I am reminded with what St. James wisely suggested: “Is anyone of you sad? Pray!”
What a beautiful advice, indeed!
Going back to the little boy in the chapel, we realize that beating our boredom begins when we actually take advantage of it. The state of boredom, for whatever it may be, always exists within a time frame. The least we could do, therefore, is to use this ‘time void’ as a recipient for something: prayer.
Now prayer isn’t just mumbling words or talking (even though sometimes it may sound like that) to ourselves. In reality, it is talking with someone. In prayer we begin to see how boredom is a proof that material things can only satisfy up to a certain point.
Prayer, however, fills the cavity of boredom in our hearts. When we talk to Jesus about our attachment to material concerns, anxieties, fears and insecurities, our hearts become filled with His presence and love. We acquire a security and peace that the world cannot give.
What else can we do? Can we further cure boredom? Yes!
As we saw boredom is rooted in sadness. It is important, therefore, to discover the cause of our sadness. St. Josemaría once asked, “You are unhappy? – Think: there must be an obstacle between God and me. You will seldom be wrong. (The Way, no. 662)”
The condition that often sets us apart from God is called sin. And in order to banish any sadness in us, we must sincerely be ready to struggle against our attachment to sins.
We take the steps to foster sorrow for our sins against God and neighbor. A genuine sorrow naturally nurtures a resolve to avoid sin in the future and to make the necessary amends to undo our wrongdoings. These are capped by asking God’s forgiveness, above all, through the Sacrament of Confession because only God can mysteriously forgive sins.
It is in through this sincere process of our conversion that we may also conclude that only God can make man happy, because only He can remove the real cause of our sadness which is sin. Then our hearts emptied of self-love are joyfully filled with God-love.
And it all begins by learning to pray our boredom!
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