Appreciating the “abundance of the ordinary”

Mark Stephens reflects on what we can do about the experience of boredom during isolation.



Mark Stephens reflects on what we can do about the experience of boredom during isolation.


MARK STEPHENS: Hi, I’m Mark Stephens from CPX, and I’m thinking out loud today about boredom. We’ve been experiencing a lot of different feelings and moods during this pandemic, from anxiety through to fear through to possibly even grief. But one feeling or mood that’s been present is boredom. Every day is the same as the day before. And I’ve watched enough Netflix, and I’ve cooked as many dishes as I want to involving quail, and I’m all zoomed out. I’m so over this.

And yet if I’m honest, boredom didn’t arrive with the pandemic – we’ve been fighting a constant battle with boredom all our lives, and trying to avoid it through manufacturing endless distractions. And yet, for all our gadgets, we’re weary with boredom. It’s like we’ve lost the capacity to see and enjoy what Andy Crouch calls “the abundance of the ordinary.”

The Christian story is very honest about saying that our present experience of life can be frustrating and difficult and pain-filled. And yet the Christian story resolutely affirms that a good Creator has made a world which continues to be beautiful and delightful and have much within it that is enjoyable – if only we would put down our distractions and take a closer look.

It reminds me of the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning who wrote this epic poem called Aurora Leigh in the nineteenth century. And she wrote these lines which continue to resonate today – she said:

“Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God,
But only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest of us sit round it and pluck blackberries.”

Maybe today is a day to take a second look, and appreciate again the abundance of the ordinary.