I’ve become bored with the snow, the snow and the cold, the snow and the cold and the wind. I read once that the world is eaten up with boredom, that it is like dust, accumulating on anything and anyone who is not in motion. I’ve grown to think the same comparison could be made with snow. It accumulates. Piles up. Anything still is soon covered over and buried under it. And we are left with a blankness to gaze out upon. The antidote to boredom, according to what I was reading, a quote from George Bernanos in The Diary of a Country Priest, is to be always on the go. I’m working on that.
Boredom is one of those toxic states of being which leads to self-destructive behaviors, to habits of mind and spirit which turn one in on oneself, cutting one off from any new learning and any new experience. In boredom, there is no uncertainty, no space between known things. Sometimes our faith can feel this way, covered over with the dust, of boredom, in which there is nothing new to learn and nothing new to experience. Boredom is toxic to the life of faith.
Sure, not knowing can irritate, can cause us to reflexively reach for reason and facts, for what we already know, when what is needed is to allow God to work in those places where we are uncertain, where we are on the move with questions. During their wilderness wandering, the Hebrew people were fed by a food for which they could find no other name but a question: “What is it?” Manna was God’s provision for the people, yet manna left the people with more questions than answers. And God expected them to handle the uncertainty of that provision with grace. Where did it come from? Why did it last only a day, so that no one could save some for tomorrow? God expected the people to learn to wait in those spaces of uncertainty so they could learn to rely on God to fill them with grace.
The truth is that we are all rather ordinary Christians going through a wilderness waiting to see what God is going to do next. We do settle into routines, and those routines can seem like going from one known thing to another, with never a gap of uncertainty between them. I think, though, we might work against the accumulation of dust on our life of faith if we only asked a few more excellent questions. In fact, here’s one: “What is Jesus doing here in the routine of your life to awaken you to mystery—be it the mystery of creation, the mystery of human love, or the mystery of God’s love?”
This month, as we lean into Lent so as to prepare for Easter, find a question to nurture your life of faith. Ask. Wait. Give thanks when God fills that space with grace.