“While visiting the University of Notre Dame, I met with an older professor and while we strolled he said with a certain melancholy, ‘you know, my whole life I have been complaining that my work was constantly interrupted, until I discovered that my interruption were my work.’” Henri Nouwen, Reaching Out, The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life, p.52.
This has been my experience. I have an agenda, but I am slowly, often painfully learning that God most often meets me in the interruptions in my life that are not on my agenda. There is that call from a friend or family member when I think I am too busy to talk. For me this is a sure sign that I am in trouble, losing priorities of what life is all about if I cannot stop and talk. Interruptions are like a stop or yield sign to go off script, and listen for a grace note. Nouwen calls them opportunities, especially opportunities for hospitality and new experiences. When I come back to a project after an interruption, I usually have fresh ideas, but there is that false idea that keeps ever lurking and speaking in my ear that I will lose my creativity, my train of thought if I stop.
Interruptions are also a reminder of how powerless we are. If we think we are in charge, the interruptions remind us that this is a myth. On the other hand, when I seal myself off and refuse to response to anything but what is on my agenda, I become exponentially isolated. My world, my God becomes too small. I become the center of the universe and fossilized. I develop a high hubris titer.