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Time to be bored

22 June 2017

Earlier this month Lauren Child was named as the new children’s laureate. Her comments on children being allowed to be bored seem insightful to me.

As a parent, I can remember the pressure children place on us by complaining to be bored. Stung by this complaint parents and carers set off on a relentless endeavor to find activities to fill our children’s attention. This is tough but often fruitless.

In education and spiritual development this is also pertinent. If someone says they are bored it is not, of itself, a problem. What we do need to consider is how we are encouraging children to be creative and use their idle times, rather than falling into the trap of simply filling their senses as a distraction.

In terms of Christian spirituality this is what Sabbath is all about. A space in the rhythm of our lives when we have time, a day, when we can be bored, refreshed and creative in God’s presence.

I want to make a distinction between being bored and things being boring. If things are boring then we are not offering or finding the stimulation to dream, experiment and be inspired. As Lauren Child puts it – it is good to be bored in a wonderful world and so discover so much of ourselves and life.

Lauren Child considers being bored as a way to be open to what is around us in a more open and imaginative way. So being bored opens us up to things beyond our initial consciousness, to new and wider things – it is to be receptive to the other.

This is something profoundly Christian. To be still and enlivened so that we can perceive God and all that God has created. To see things beyond our prejudices, existing preoccupations. This is to be encouraged in all generations.

It is time to pause. To be bored. To be open to people and things outside ourselves and our busy agendas.

Graham Brownlee, June 2017

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