distractions, distractions…

As a mother of 5, I don’t think there has been a distraction out there I haven’t experienced at one time or another.  Life is made up of distractions.  But, are they really distractions?

Fr. John this morning told us of a little ‘experiment’ a seminary professor did with his students.  This professor set up this plan to see what his students would do.  First, he broke his class up into groups of 5 students.  The first group was told that they needed to go across campus to another building to pick up the assignment.  If they got there within 15 minutes after the end of class they would get extra credit.  If they were later than 15 minutes, they would only get 50% of the extra credit.  The second group, he told they also needed to go across campus to the same location but that they needed to be there within 30 minutes to get the extra credit.  If they were late, they would only get 25% of the extra credit. The third group was told the same assignment, but given 3 hours to get to the other location.  If they were late, they would only get 10% of the extra credit.

Well, the professor also set up ‘distractions’ along the way.  He asked 3 drama students to help try to distract the students en route to the second location.  The students were to act like they were in pain (1st student), unconscious in the middle of the sidewalk (2nd student) and then having seizures (3rd student).

The results were interesting and say a lot about who we are as a society and how we are raised.  The 1st group of 5 students, didn’t stop at all at any of the distractions, and all received full extra credit points.  The 2nd group had 2 that stopped and the 3rd had all of them stopping to help those on the path.

What does this say?  Father talked about it as our “go,  go, go” society.  How, we go along totally focused on our task at hand and not even seeing what is around us.  This is especially true of us when we are in a hurry.  My thoughts went along a slightly different track although I agree wholeheartedly with Father.  I am notorious for not seeing my nose on my face when I am in a hurry and rushing around.

But, today is also the Feast of Juan Diego.  Juan Diego was on a path going from one place to another.  His distraction along the way was a bit more than someone needing help along the path, it was the Virgin Mary.  But, at first did he recognize that?  No, I don’t think he did.  At first, he wasn’t sure what was happening and who this lady was.  But, he stopped.  He listened.  He obeyed.  His distraction led him to a one on one encounter with the Mother of God.  But, what if he had been like that first group of students?  What if he didn’t stop?  Wow — it is almost too sad to think about.

But, how do we know that the distractions that are in our path are unimportant things?  We don’t.  When I was on retreat in November, distractions were one of our reflections.  Instead of thinking bad of the distractions that come our way and being frustrated by their intrusion into our perfectly ordered day, how do we turn that around and realize that distractions can lead us to God.

Perception is everything.  At this point of the year with all of the tasks on the to do list, it is easy to get frustrated with those things that are slowing us down and keeping us from checking things off of our list.  But, the challenge is to not rush through life, but to take our time and to look for God in those distractions.  He is there.  But, if we don’t look, we won’t see Him.

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