by Father Mark Goldasich
A pastor was visiting one of his elderly parishioners at her home. In the course of their conversation, he asked, “Thelma, do you ever think about the hereafter?”
“Oh, yes, Father!” she replied. “Why, I’ll go into a room several times a day and ask myself, ‘Now what in the world did I come here after?’”
I don’t know about you, but I’m with Thelma. Now, she might suffer from chronic forgetfulness but, more than likely, her real issue is simply being distracted.
Last Friday afternoon, for example, I was chatting with our new reporter Olivia Martin. After a bit, she said, “Well, sorry to have distracted you. I’ll get back to work now.”
Hearing those words managing editor Anita McSorley burst out laughing. “Distracting him?” she said incredulously. “He’s the one who distracts everyone else in here, especially on Fridays!”
OK, she might have a point. But, as I’ve explained to Anita before, I have to make good use of this gift that God has given me!
Distractions are a part of life. While some can have dire consequences, like texting and driving, most, thank God, are not so serious. In fact, some describe it as AAADD or Age-Activated Attention Deficit Disorder.
Here is one person’s story:
“I decided to wash my car. As I start toward the garage, I notice the mail on the hall table. I decide to go through the mail before washing the car. I lay my car keys down on the table and separate out the bills. When I put the junk mail in the trashcan under the table, I notice the can is full.
So, I decide to put the bills back on the table and take out the trash first. But then I think, since I’m gong to be near the mailbox when I take out the trash, I may as well pay the bills first.
I grab my checkbook and see that there is only one check left. My extra checks are in my desk in the study, so I go to my desk where I find a Coke I’d been drinking.
Before looking for my checks, I push the Coke aside so I don’t accidentally knock it over. But because the Coke is getting warm, I decide to put it back in the refrigerator.
As I head toward the kitchen with the Coke, a vase of flowers on the counter catches my eye because they need to be watered. I set the pop on the counter and discover my reading glasses that I’ve been searching for all morning.
I decide I’d better put them back on the desk, but first I’m going to water the flowers. I set my glasses down, fill a container with water and suddenly spot the TV remote on the kitchen table. Knowing we’ll be looking for the remote tonight, but nobody will remember that it’s on the kitchen table, I decide to put it back in the den. But first, I’ll water those darn flowers.
I splash some water on them, but most of it spills on the floor. So, I set the remote back down on the table, get some towels and wipe up the spill.
At the end of the day, the car isn’t washed, the bills aren’t paid, there’s a warm can of Coke sitting on the counter, the flowers aren’t watered, there is still only one check in my checkbook, I can’t find the remote, I can’t find my glasses and I don’t remember what I did with the car keys!
When I try to figure out why nothing got done, I’m really baffled because I know I was busy all day, and I’m really tired! (Found on the website “Therapeutic Humor with Dr. Steve,” by Steven M. Slutanoff, Ph.D.)
We sometimes experience distractions in our prayer life as well. With the end of Lent in sight, it’s important to not let distractions like spring break and March Madness derail our disciplines of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
And it seems even more difficult once Holy Week arrives to commit ourselves to celebrating Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil with our parish family. Marking down those times right now on the family calendar might be just the thing to keep distractions on those days at bay.
I’ll close with a story about prayer, St. Benedict and a peasant. It goes like . . . hey, look, a squirrel!