Some days are filled with fragmented energy: my attention is pulled in many directions and lacks the clear focus and interior motivation necessary to complete the tasks at hand. Perhaps it’s the fickleness of the weather or the simple fact that I’m daydreaming of the near future when I will take a break from my office and go on retreat. It is a challenge for me to keep both feet planted in the now and not run towards a time that is not yet here. The irony is that once I arrive at the retreat center, part of my time will be spent settling into the quiet and letting go of the work I left behind. The quiet is often disrupted as I laugh at myself and recall that no matter the location, I am who I am. Time passes in the same way; the difference is the means at which I move through it.
I believe what I’m describing is a universal experience. Most of us feel anticipation as we get closer to vacations and get-togethers without realizing it can overshadow the present day and appreciation of the gifts it offers.
There are lessons in distraction. Sometimes distractions can serve as light to the deeper questions in my life easily overlooked in everyday busyness—why am I distracted? What does distraction teach? We are taught from an early age to be productive, but what if the pathway to greater understanding is to accept and immerse ourselves in the times of interference; to welcome discovery of the creativity that can surface when we ask a different question of ourselves. There are times in discernment where distraction will be part of the journey; when the idea of exploring a back road to see what is out there rather than continuing on the well-worn highway may lead to insight. Perspective is gained when we allow room for newness of the experience to unfold and evolve over time.
And perhaps it is the influence of the Holy Spirit that gifts us with days of distraction so that ultimately we settle into the present.
Where did you experience diversion in your discernment?
What did you find within it?