The human psyche has an aversion towards the mundane. We constantly search for activities that excite and titillate, thrill and delight us with new and novel experiences. Marketers, knowing this, dedicate their time and resources just to give their customers what they want, thus creating an unending cycle of consumerism.
What lies at the heart of this yearning is what many moralists would call the fear of boredom. We are dependent on distractions and entertainment, because it gives us a false sense of purpose. The addiction to novelty is what causes us to use people and love things, when we should be loving people and using things. The instant gratification culture, made even faster by the Internet and portable electronic devices, doesn’t help either. When we loathe developing a discipline of waiting and delaying gratification, the spillover effect becomes evident in other areas of our lives.
To distract us from boredom, in an attempt to remove us from our aloneness, many have even turned to sex. When this happens, it turns a sacred and Godly act into a recreational social activity, or worse, a means for fame and popularity, making it into something utilitarian, self-serving and life-sapping. The fear of boredom can indeed enter into so many other areas of our lives and can even cause us to lose our moral compass.
At the heart of it, we have lost the ability to stay in the boredom and dullness that, ironically, is necessary for true growth and maturity. Mature married couples as well as mature chaste singles know this to be true. What is fidelity but the willingness to ‘hang in there’ when all excitement and thrills of romance are a thing of the past? Staying faithful to one person with their wrinkles and age-spots without wanting to be delighted by the younger and more attractive options is not an exciting thing. Staying faithful to an hour of prayer in the adoration room where the Eucharist waits is hardly something that is called a ‘thrill’. Many don’t see it, but even singles who are mature and stay chaste reflect an uncommon ability to live in the boredom and monotony of a disciplined waiting, and this too, is fidelity. But the real virtue in fidelity despite the drab and familiar is that we are responding to God’s fidelity and we are imitating God’s faithfulness.
God, because he is complete in himself, has no need to be thrilled and delighted, enticed and titillated to remind him that he is alive and that he exists. When we go to the Adoration Room in faithful prayer, God has no need to make himself more than he is. Jesus doesn’t need to break out of the Tabernacle and do a "Gangnam Style" dance to keep us entertained or to make himself “relevant” in any sort of empirical way. God is not interested in entertaining us, because entertainment and excitement belong only to the level of our physicality. We need to realize that we are far more than just our physicality. A maturity in our spiritual lives will help us discover that we are spiritual beings as well.
It is when we are able to develop a taste for the silent, the mundane and the unvaried, that the other aspects of our lives to also start develop and mature. The Missionaries of Charity (which Mother Theresa headed) begin their day with an hour of silent adoration before the Eucharist. There is an intrinsic connection between their prayer and their work for it is only after the hour of adoration that they start their day, with compassion and charity, to become Christ and to ‘adore’ him in the most rejected in society. When we discipline ourselves to sit with the mundane and ordinary, we allow our spirituality to develop and mature.
The discipline to stay in the unexciting, the ordinary and the drab changes the eyes of the heart to be able to see something healthy in the sick, something alive in the dying and something very rich in the poor. A dedicated and regular prayer life is thus one of the best ways to readjust our vision – of life, of ourselves, and most importantly, of God.