British Summer time!
‘Mum, I’m bored’ . . . and, then, you start to drive them somewhere, where they’ll be less bored, only to hear the constant refrain of ‘Are we there yet?’ and, worse still, you arrive . . . and it’s raining! Yes, it’s that time of year . . . it’s the great British summer holidays!
Now, obviously, if you’d been listening to Radio Maria in the car, the kids would have wanted the journey never to end, but perhaps you’d left our DAB coverage and you’d forgotten to download the App on your phone . . . but the reality is that at some point in the summer we’re likely to be bored and, quite possibly, frustrated too.
One of my favourite writers, David Foster Wallace, had some very interesting thoughts on our experience of being bored:
Maybe dullness is associated with psychic pain because something that’s dull or opaque fails to provide enough stimulation to distract people from some other, deeper type of pain that is always there…surely something must lie behind not just Muzak in dull or tedious places anymore but now also actual TV in waiting rooms, supermarkets’ checkouts, airports’ gates, SUVs’ backseats. Walkmen, iPods, BlackBerries, cell phones that attach to your head. This terror of silence with nothing diverting to do.
And he was writing this before smartphones!
Even though we may sometimes be on in the background, we hope that at Radio Maria we give you something more than noise to distract, we want to give you words and music that fulfil because they are the Lord’s, or like Mary’s life, they point you to the Lord. That’s our mission to be the handmaid of the Lord.
Still in my infancy as your new Priest Director, I have found the experience of praying live on air with you to be incredibly moving. It’s my hope that Radio Maria can be a school of prayer for you and your families. Being able to pray, and being able to love, require the same capacity: the ability to pay attention. In prayer we experience distraction; sometimes paying attention to our families is boring; sometimes the outcast is just difficult, but choosing to continue to pay attention to God; to our families; choosing not to seek some other diversion for ourselves or for them, embracing that psychic pain of boredom because that’s sometimes the cost of loving, that’s an embrace of the Cross, and the way to holiness. Only in looking at the Cross will we address that ‘deeper type of pain that is always there’: the wound of sin.
When you teach your children how to pray, you’re teaching them how to love God and to love others, there’s no better gift you can give them. Teach your children how to pray and you’ll teach them how to find fulfilment and how it’s something different to just entertainment. On that note I’d like to point you this month to some of the programming that we have for your children to help you in your mission as parents, grandparents, godparents to help those entrusted by you to God to learn to speak with Him.
Also, if you’re not able to make it to one of the great Catholic festivals going on around the country – a great way to avert boredom and teach family to pray – then I’m sure you’ll enjoy listening into our coverage of the New Dawn Festival (Click here for details). If you are there, please do say hello to Helena and the other members of the Radio Maria family who are going to be there.
We pray for you and ask for your continued support in prayer, with your time as volunteers, and with your generous donations that enable us to continue to be a Christian voice in your home and wherever there is a radio. Like the children God calls us to be, we’re utterly reliant upon His Providence through you.
Fr. Toby Lees OP