a little east of reality

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

distractions and the need for focus

EBay Australia has this competition at the moment where you can win $1000 for chasing down an item by a rather cryptic clue (some good and some made up by people on crack as far as I can tell). I'm trying but have only come close a couple of times (and there've been 16 clues so far). Could certainly use the money and I can always use another distraction at work. ^_^

That's one aspect of being back in an office I like (the scope for distraction) though I do miss the immediacy of teaching - the direct interaction, the visable moment when someone understands something for the first time. I guess that's what I'm getting in return for agreeing to get up so early and teach seminary. I get to teach teenagers again on a daily basis. Just like my Japanese students they're not always so focused (it's 6.30am after all) but every once in a while there's this moment where a concept hits them and they start thinking out loud or asking questions or just looking ahead into space with an intensity that screams 'ah-ha moment' and it is SO COOL!

We had a moment like that yesterday. We were talking about (Mark 1:35) how Jesus, right in the middle of a really busy time of teaching and healing and dealing with people all the time, took the time to 'depart into a solitary place' and pray. (Mark mentions more than any of the other four Gospel writers how Christ rested and spent time alone.) Anyway, then we listed all the other people they could think of in the scriptures who deliberately sought a place alone just for the purpose of pondering/refocussing themselves/solving spiritual problems and talking with God without distraction or interruption. We compared today's modern lifestyle with older times and discussed how we have all this extra spare time (thanks to technology) but also a myriad of new ways to fill time, some of them not very valuable. Because there's always something we can do to use up our time, if we don't deliberately make time to seperate ourselves from the rest of life and ponder/pray/connect with God and the universe, it will never happen.

Lastly we talked about the effect these times of solitude had on these people and their lives. In each case, this choice was a gateway to profound ideas and experiences that changed their thinking, their spiritual understanding and in some cases their path in life. At that point, the whole class was silent (and not in that comatose way) because they got it and they saw it in terms of their own lives, their own relationship with God. It was a pretty cool moment.