Interruptions

Interruption. Even reading it probably just made you feel a little frustrated. But does our frustration say more about us or about the word? To call something an interruption is to assume two things about the situation:

First, you assume a goal. You are definitely headed somewhere. There is no interruption if you are not “on your way” to do something or go somewhere. Second, you assume that your goal is more important than the interruption. There is no interruption if you are on your way but are diverted by something you think is more important.

So then, an interruption is something less important that “gets in the way” of going somewhere or doing something more important.

Now, when we read about the life of Jesus, he seems to have a different take on interruptions. In fact, his story seems to be more about interruptions than anything else. Think about it. It’s almost like the gospels are written as strings of interruptions tied together by “And now Jesus decided to go here.” Almost every single time Jesus heals someone, he is “on the way” to somewhere else. He is rarely “on the way” to heal someone. Some of the most important moments in Jesus’ life are what we would call “interruptions.” But Jesus seems to invite these interruptions.

I think what we call “interruptions,” because we are obsessed in our culture with “accomplishing things,” Jesus would consider “inter-ruptions,” (<–see what I did there) that is, opportunities for two human beings to have a moment, to connect in a way that date-books, deadlines, and over-inflated senses of purpose and importance simply will not allow.

The story of our culture says that we have too much to do and not enough time to do it. In this story, people are "interruptions." They will make me 3 minutes late to my meeting, they will make me miss the first part of the newest episode of Glee, etc ad nauseum.

The people in front of me at the grocery store: interruption.
The people who crowd the department store: interruption.
The friend who calls as I’m walking out the door: interruption.
The family member who drops by unannounced: interruption.
The stranger who strikes up a conversation at the airport: interruption.

But the story of the Gospel tells us a different story. In that story, people are more important than a list of to-do’s. Our success is no longer what we accomplish but whether or not we value people for who they are instead of for how they contribute to my accomplishments. That is, the life of Jesus calls us to transform our daily lives in such a way that people are no longer “interruptions” but “inter-ruptions.” Our goal for the day is not to “get things done” but to connect with people in such a way that our encounters with them “rupture” us “internally,” they change our heart, our perspective, our lives.

If this is so, the question becomes: Do I do anything in my life to fight the story that says to me “I have a lot to get done today and people better not get in my way?” Or am I blindly accepting the story of my culture?

For me, the reason I even began to meditate on “interruptions” has been public transportation. I take the bus and the train to work every day. I could drive. And many times I really want to. But for me, taking public transportation is a spiritual discipline. It frustrates the story of my culture.

I do not get to go when I want. I do not get to speed when I am in a hurry. I have to create margins in my schedule in case I miss a bus. In other words: I have to wait.

And in the waiting, as I pry my life away from a down-to-the-minute schedule, I am now confronted with dozens and dozens of fellow human beings. And I am confronted, perhaps for the first time, with this choice: are they, today, “interruptions” or “inter-ruptions”?

I pray that the Spirit of God continues to tear down my idol of an accomplishment, to-do list, task-oriented way of life and replaces it with the exciting, unpredictable, and volatile life of human relationship; a life where every single human being has the potential to “erupt” in my heart – becoming Christ-like “inter-ruptions.”

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