Every day, I make choices about how I'm going to spend my time. But, sometimes, those choices are interrupted by other things or people. It's taken me a time to learn how to respond to interruptions.
Early on, I treated all of life's interruptions as disruptions. Eventually, I begrudgingly endured them—you know, to be polite. But over time, I openly and lovingly embraced them.
Of course, I don't do that all the time. There are times when interruptions require us to draw boundaries. However, I've found that interruptions usually call for all boundaries to be erased. Something important has just shown up that needs attention.
One evening, after a particularly grueling day, I decided to kick back after dinner. I was lost in a riveting novel. Then came the phone call from my 5-year-old grandson, Charlie, who was going to play his first T-ball game. His mother forgot to tell me. "Are you coming, Grandma?"
"You bet I am," I told him. A bookmarked novel could wait. Charlie's game couldn't.
Last weekend I was putting groceries away. That can be a noisy event with cupboards, drawers, refrigerator, and freezer doors opening and closing. The crinkling paper bags being emptied and folded. Aluminum foil ripped from its container by the sharp teeth of its metal strip. In the middle of all that, I was interrupted. The interruption made me go statue-still-and-silent. A hummingbird had perched on the feeder outside my sliding glass door. I felt blessed by this majestic emerald-green visitor, who paused from its usual frenetic flitting back and forth and made me do the same.
I pray to be present and available for what is most needed at any given time. Interruptions help me do that. I no longer consider them disruptive; I consider them holy. Interruptions cause a break in the action. Sometimes we need that for ourselves or for others. I think it's God's way of telling us, "I have something better for you to do right now than what you're doing."
Fr. Henri Nouwen came to a similar conclusion near the end of his life. He said, "My whole life, I have been complaining that my work was constantly interrupted until I discovered that my interruptions were my work."