Keep vigilant watch over your heart;
that’s where life starts.
Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth;
avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip.
Keep your eyes straight ahead;
ignore all sideshow distractions.
Watch your step,
and the road will stretch out smooth before you.
Today I just couldn’t find a verse that really spoke to me till now, which is mid-afternoon. Typically I write this in the morning, right after I write my gratitude list and the cards I send to church members. But today, nothing was working, not even my favorite go-to verses.
The Cats weren’t helping, either. Each of the three who will sit on laps has been on my lap at least twice today. They are all big enough that typing around their bodies just doesn’t work. Nermal doesn’t lap sit, but she has come in to stare at me a couple of times, which is nearly as distracting.
There are days like that. There are days when I just can’t seem to settle down to doing one thing. There are days when all those “sideshow distractions” get my attention more easily than spiritual practices. I have tried all the things I usually do to focus my thoughts. I have even looked to see if there is a prayer specifically for loss of focus in The Book of (un)Common Prayers I recently purchased. (There is! Also one for when technology doesn’t cooperate. I already shared that with the techie people at church.) That didn’t even help.
As a last resort, I started checking other translations of this passage from Proverbs to see if different phrasing would help. And then I saw it:
Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions.
Watch your step, and the road will stretch out smooth before you.
All the cats and the phone calls and the text messages and the emails are distractions, yes, but they are also important parts of that road ahead of me. More like directional signs than distractions, actually. They inform my day, make me look in new directions, fill my heart, and in many ways, make that road smoother. Yes, they may be distractions, but they are also connections to my friends, my congregation, and to the greater world around me. Those distractions keep me thinking, keep me engaged, keep me entertained, keep me paying attention.
God of my journey, I thank you for those daily distractions that serve to keep me on the road toward you. May they continue to show me the way. Amen