My own experience did not involve a car or a mobile device. In my case I was trying to walk briskly on my home treadmill while watching a recent World Cup match. It was not the TV which caused the distraction. The danger began when I realized my new walking shoes had overly long laces. I was thinking that I really ought to do something about them after I finished my walk. Then I began to try to put on the headphones so I could hear the game and not just watch without the sound. As I reached for the headphones, which were on the handlebar just to my right, I stopped being attentive to what I was doing and to the overly long shoelaces, and proceeded to step on one, left foot on right lace. Down I went. I did not break anything, but there are significant bruises, both physically and to my pride. I was very lucky not to have gotten hurt any worse than I did. I never thought it would happen to me, but it is oh, so easy to do.
The only way to be truly attentive to God is to put in the time and effort with an undivided mind and heart. The desert fathers and mothers used a term called 'aplotes' in their writing. It means 'single-mindedness.' It refers to the notion that we need to be focused on our relationship with God with an undivided heart and mind. In this case we can apply the term to our need to be attentive to the One whom we seek. It means we need to try to put nothing before our relationship with the Lord so that God comes first in our lives. We talk about ‘the practice’ of prayer: it is something we become more comfortable with by spending the time becoming proficient. The good news is that God does more than meet us halfway. All we have to do is show up and pay attention. God is infinitely interested in what we have to say and in our needs. He realizes we are broken and easily distracted, but we have to make the effort to be where we are, trying to keep our attention on Him or we will find ourselves giving up on our prayer.
The best way to do this is to take our distraction to God; the mistake most of us make is to try to run from the distractions. Our distractions actually reveal that which concerns us. They have an importance to our prayer, yet we are usually embarrassed to admit we find it hard to concentrate because of them. If we put our distractions to use, we will find that not only do they reveal our cares to us, but we can learn to turn them over to God so that they are in His hands and are not holding us captive. ("Cast all your worries upon Him because He cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7) Once we place them in God's hands, trusting that He will take care of our cares, we can attend to our conversation with God.
Let us become fully focused on what we are doing especially when we are at prayer. May we ask to see with the eyes of Jesus so that we can see ourselves and others as they are, loved and loveable! May we be attentive to the presence of God in those with whom we come in contact, especially those who are most in need! May we allow our focus to be on Jesus so that we can be aware of His love for us by seeing and hearing the many ways He communicates this to us every day! And may we continually turn to the Lord in freedom and love, knowing that He is present with us always, even in our distractions! Let us continue to meet in the heart of Jesus! Peace!
©Michele L Catanese
All of the photos are my own. The top photo is of the Oregon coast. The second photo is of Crater Lake, also in Oregon. The mirror images of the mountain on the water are captivating. The third photo is from part of a delicious meal we had in Sicily last September. (It was course 2 of 5!) The fourth and fifth photos are from Cong, Ireland.