Saint Meinrad Seminary & School of Theology

Formation and Education for the Life of the Church

Boring

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I've been living in the monastery now for over a year and a half, and to be honest, I'm bored. I hope that doesn't come as a shock, because to some extent, that's exactly what this life is intended to do.

Day after day, we get up at the same time, go to the same church, pray the same prayers, with the same people. Some of us eveneatthe same thing every day! So it is indeed boring, intentionally so, but why? So we are forced to come face-to-face with our worst enemy: ourselves.

Michael Casey, in his book An Unexciting Life, writes, "Exterior dullness is a condition for inner excitement." As monastics, we intentionally live a highly structured and "boring" life (by today's standards), so that something in ushasto change.

We cannot expect the things around us to change, we cannot expect to change the exteriors of our way of life,wemust be the ones who change. This is the wisdom behind the Benedictine vow of stability, namely, that I bind myself to this monastery, to these people, and I do not expect them to change, but I must be the one who changes. We renounce exterior freedoms in order to pursue an interior freedom.

But this is such a hard sell! Boredom is good?! In our society, boredom is seen as the enemy, something to avoid at all costs; it is certainly not our friend.

I recently saw a video on YouTube (don't be shocked!) of pedestrians in Germany playing a "Pong" video game on the crosswalk traffic light pole (http://youtu.be/C3Ozz6_pdMI). What does this say about us?! Do we really need to be entertained constantly? Can't we even wait at a traffic light for a few minutes without having this need to be entertained?

Boredom is not the enemy. Boredom is our friend. In our boredom, we face ourselves, and when we face ourselves, we inevitably realize that there are things about us that we must change.

Christ wants us to look inward deeply. He wants us to "cleanse first the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may be clean" (Mt. 23:26). By creating this highly structured and "boring" life, that is exactly what we intend to do.

So I am glad that I am bored. It is a sure sign that this life is actuallyworking. The challenge, though, for all of us, is to see that boredom as a spiritual friend and to welcome it as a chance to look inward deeply at ourselves, to clean the inside of the cup. 

Echoes from the Bell Tower is a blog devoted to observations on Christian faith, spirituality and everyday events, by authors with a connection to the Benedictine values found at Saint Meinrad Archabbey and its Seminary and School of Theology. Contributors include students, permanent deacons, Benedictine oblates and Saint Meinrad monks. Their stories, thoughts and ideas highlight the mission and vision that ring out from the bell towers on this Hill in southern Indiana.


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