Excerpt from Tadhg’s Journal: Today, I knew was going to be a busy day. I got up early, had breakfast in the garden. Was unhurried about breakfast. Always am. But as I sat there, I knew it was the calm before the storm, and that it was going to be a busy day.
At 9am as I was typing (or, is it word-processing, these days) an upcoming order of service for a hand-fasting ceremony that I was to lead, there was a knock at the front door. Postman…well post-lady, actually.
My parcel, all the way from Edinburgh had arrived, and I knew what it was. Yes, it was my kilt. My old kilt had seen better days, and with a big family event in a few weeks, I needed another. It had arrived. Oh my, I couldn’t resist opening it, quickly, and I can tell you it looked swmpus [pronounced soom-pis. Welsh for ‘awesome’]. After that first interruption I went back to typing out the order of service.
‘I feared nothing but interruption, and that came too soon.’ Charlotte Brontë
Twenty minutes later, another knock at the front door. Mid-stream through a rather eloquent hand-fasting liturgy consisting of a versicle and responses section (even if I say so myself), I left the (home) office and approached the front door – the outline of the people through the glass was unfamiliar.
And sure enough, it was two backpackers who needed directions. They wanted to go to Tŷ Hyll. ‘Aha’, I said, ‘This is Tŷ Gwin. If you want Tŷ Hyll, you don’t want to be starting out from here’. They looked at me strangely, and justifiably so. That phrase is often used around these parts, as a wry bit of humour.
But, they didn’t see the funny side to it, so I smiled, laughed and pointed them in the right direction. As they walked off, they looked back – and it was as if I could read their thoughts. Something about, poor chap, obviously ‘afflicted’. I waved frantically, which probably confirmed their suspicions.
But, half an hour later, I’d finished the outline order of service for a dear Celtic/Druid couple’s hand-fasting ceremony, and had moved onto writing the first draft of an event outline for a local faith group. Someone at the front door? No, this time it was a knock at the back door.
Back door means a local.
And sure enough, as I got to the back door which opens into the kitchen, a local farmer, a young guy, was already in the kitchen, checking to see if the tea pot was hot. It was. He’s a good friend, but all locals, friends or not, do much the same – use the back door and make themselves at home in the kitchen. His life is ‘tough’ (shall we say) at the moment (though it would be wrong to go into details), and his head hung low; and what he needed was someone just to be there for him and listen. And so he sat down. I sat, too. What else could I do?
And with copious amounts of tea at our disposal, he chatted and I listened, and he chatted some more, so I listened some more. And it seemed to unburden him. Forty minutes later he left, looking visibly taller than when he had come in. Somewhat, pleased, I went back to the office after this second interruption.
‘Have you ever noticed that life consists mostly of interruptions, with occasional spells of rush work in between?’ Buwei Yang Chao
Now, back to work and to make some important ‘phone calls. There were six long and somewhat ‘complicated’ ‘phone calls I needed to make, and by the time I was about to ring the fourth person, yes, the front door again.
Someone was ‘hammering’ at the front door. If I’m honest, under my breath as I raced to the door, I was uttering, ‘Dear Lord, why so many interruptions?’. I slowed down by the time I opened the door.
I went from ‘frantic and red-faced’ to ‘cool wet grass’ by the time I opened the front door. Outwardly I looked very ‘Buddhist’, almost ‘hovering’, but inwardly I was thinking ahead to some of the important ‘phone calls I still had to make.
The person at the door, so she said, was a new vicar from a neighbouring parish. It seems the dear Lord was ‘a-knocking’ at my front door, and a female vicar, too. And, what surprised me was how a petite person like her, just moments earlier, had been ‘hammering’ at the front door.
Manners dictated that I let her in, and I was intrigued, anyway. So, over a cup of tea – Oh dear, my poor stomach was awash now with too much tea – she introduced herself. She said she was new, and…. ‘Aha, I could tell you were new, as you knocked at the front door. Locals use the back door into the kitchen,’ I said. She looked on. She smiled a sort of confused-do-I-really-need-that-information sort of smile. And, we conversed.
She left an hour later. But, what an amazing person. Full of focus, energy, and a great sense of humour. I liked that. But, the phone calls!? Arrgh! Still so much to do after this third interruption.
I finished making the outstanding ‘phone calls, and sat there, looking into the mid-distance. Exhausted. Spiritually and emotionally, if not physically. I had only accomplished half the things I had set out to do, because of the constant interruptions.
And, then it occurred to me. Ofcourse, this is what life is all about.
There are things I wanted and needed to do, and it felt as though others were interrupting my plans, but they weren’t interruption at all. This is what life is all about, and I was really enjoying it, deep down, I was.
‘The interruption we now impatiently put off may be the most important thing we could be doing at this particular time?’ Richard L. Evans
As an Anamcara [literally ‘soul friend’] I would be expected to respond to people in any kind of need – whether it’s because of a tough life and the need for someone to listen to them, or for a myriad of other reasons. I fell into the trap of busy-ness and professionalism, and regretted it. It is so easily done. If we think it can’t happen to us, it probably already has! And, so I ‘pinched’ myself (metaphorically) that I had mentally called other people and their visits ‘interruptions’.
The messy, the unexpected, the things that we determine to be interruptions, the strange and annoying events that slide into and out of our day, the strangers at the door is life. Life itself. Life knocking. And, life in abundance. And because of my agenda, my busy-ness I nearly missed it.
‘You shall love the stranger first of all because you know what it is to be a stranger yourself. Second of all, you shall love the stranger because the stranger shows you God’. Barbara Brown Taylor, ‘An Altar In The Word (quote based on a Bible verse or two).
So much for my morning, and lesson learned. But, what about you? Do you have mornings like that? Do you sometimes see things as interruptions, when those little niggling events, people wanting attention at seemingly inconvenient times, is really what life is all about.
‘How I treat a brother or sister from day to day, how I react to the sin-scarred wino on the street, how I respond to interruptions from people I dislike, how I deal with normal people in their normal confusion on a normal day may be a better indication of my reverence for life…’ Brendan Manning
Savour the moment, enjoy people’s company, welcome the stranger, give as much time as you can to others (though I accept this is not always easy to do); and, besides, ‘thereby some have entertained angels unawares’.
‘The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own,’ or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life — the life God is sending one day by day.’ C S Lewis