One thing that happens to me a lot is getting distracted. I’ll be trying to pay attention and all of a sudden I’m off thinking about something far removed from the topic at hand. This can happen in a conversation, at Mass, during a homily or a conversation with my wife….. “I’m talking to Judy and I suddenly think that the cloud in the sky reminds me of Charlie Brown’s head … wow, look at that ….. hmmmm.” Generally it’s not a good thing. I do pray not to be distracted but often it doesn’t seem to work very well.
So, at times the distraction is clearly not helpful…for example counting the ceiling panels at church or how many sides to the crucifix at Mass…by the way there are 12 sides to a crucifix… if you don’t believe me, check it out… but not during mass.
At other times the distraction can be helpful. If I’m listening to a good talk, it may trigger in me a thought that’s connected and helpful. Maybe it’s a point of God’s mercy and I quickly jump to a situation where I received mercy or where I should show mercy. That often happens to me when I’m reading…. “oh, that reminds me of how the Lord saved me from a disaster… or that is a great example of forgiving or I need to pay attention to that in my own life….” I may miss the rest of the talk, but at least I connected at some level.
While at times I may see the “positives” of being distracted when I’m listening to someone, I’m not so quick to think it’s positive when I’m the one speaking. I may be sharing a “pearl of wisdom” and the person listening, their eyes start to glaze over or even worse the person starts to nod…. or even worse, they interrupt and ask someone else a question….ie. “I’m sharing about some trauma in my life and the person asks hey did you see the Mets game last night”… and all of a sudden my pearl of wisdom or sensitive “self- revealing insight” is left in the ditch along the side of the road. “Hey I just found out I have 2 weeks to live…oh sorry, can I have your golf clubs?”
Okay, I think I’ve made the point…. it’s time to summarize.
Here’s a few points to consider in all of this.
- First, calm down a bit. Ask the Lord to help you be attentive to the important things in life, especially in prayer, while at Mass, while speaking with your friends, or your spouse …..
- Second, keep a notebook at hand so that if you’re reading or listening to a podcast, you can jot down any insights that you might receive.
- Third, remember that it’s a way of loving by being attentive to those speaking to you…to listen carefully, to ask questions, etc.
- Fourth, if it was Jesus sitting across from you and speaking to you, would you be counting the ceiling tiles ?
Okay, time to stop. “Wait, hold on a minute, here comes the mailman …you know that mailman has a very round head …. he looks a lot like Charlie Brown….”