I would like to reclaim the concept of interruptions. Historically, they’ve been this unfortunate occurrence that disturbs my path to getting everything done just right and on time. I am on course to accomplish the busy planning I think my life needs and then, suddenly, a lapse in the way things should have gone.
That’s not interesting. I would say that more often than not, this is exactly the way it should be. Interruptions are opportunities for love, story, time, wonder, and newness to break through. They are divine pauses in a schedule too often plagued by narrow vision. Nowhere do I see these divine pauses more frequently than working with our youngest boys at Camp Rockmont.
To be a 6 to 10-year-old is to know that what’s on your mind is worth saying. A few nights ago, as the Buckeye Tribe was having snacks after Council, one spry camper in Cabin One – in between bites of his apple – asked me, “Hey Andrew, do you know what my favorite talent is?” Interested by Tradd’s ability to just jump right in, I asked, “What’s your favorite talent, Tradd?” Without pause or hesitation, he simply replies, “Ukulele. I’m really good at it.” Tradd gave me the gift of interruption with a joy that reaches graciously beyond “Is everything running perfectly?” to just tell me something about himself. These are the moments that stick with me. These are the moments that teach me, an adult who’s too often in my own head. And with these young boys, these moments come dozens of times throughout the day. If I’m paying attention.
On Sunday, our devotional reading was from Matthew 9 where Jesus heals many people who believe. At Bear Camp Church that morning I spoke to our youngest campers about the beauty that can be found in interruptions. In the story, Jesus is having a discussion with John the Baptist’s disciples and his own disciples about fasting. While he is speaking, a synagogue leader comes and kneels before him, interrupting Jesus, asking him to come and heal his daughter who has just died. Jesus got up and went with the man, and his disciples followed behind. “Just then,” the Scripture says, a woman who had been suffering for twelve years comes up behind Jesus and touches his robe. Didn’t this woman understand that Jesus was in route to heal someone else and he should not be interrupted? Thankfully, Jesus never sees us this way. Jesus turned and saw her (truly saw her!) and he told her, “Take heart, daughter, your faith has healed you.”
If ever there is a time to expect interruption, it is in our relationships with one another. The astonishing act of coming to one another with our pain, random stories, joy, and faith is something that Jesus makes time for over and again throughout his ministry. It is his ministry.
Shouldn’t the synagogue leader have protested when Jesus delayed their journey to his daughter by pausing to help this woman? Shouldn’t the disciples have protested the synagogue leader when he came and interrupted Jesus’ teaching to them to ask for help? Jesus’ motion is always toward the now; at least this is how I’ve seen him working in my life, especially at Rockmont.
The longer I’m concerned with getting everything done just right or on time, the more divine interruptions I’ll miss. I don’t want to miss those moments that inspire wonder and teaching from these young boys. Jesus is clear that “the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”
In this sense of wonder in the interruptions, I’m reminded of a poem by Walt Whitman where he describes beginning his studies:
“Beginning my studies, the first step pleas’d me so much,
The mere fact, consciousness – these forms – the power of motion,
The least insect or animal – the senses – eyesight – love;
The first step, I say, aw’d me and pleas’d me so much,
I have hardly gone, and hardly wish’d to go, any farther,
But stop and loiter all the time, to sing it in ecstatic songs.”
This is the beginning I believe Jesus had in each new encounter with those during his ministry, and those he still has with us in breaking through each interruption even today. I am grateful to be divinely interrupted by these young boys who are so pleased by the beginning, each day.
Bear Camp Director (Cabins 1-12)
Tonight’s Scripture: Matthew 28: 1-10
Story: Jesus is Alive Again!
+ Where do you see yourself the story?
+ What’s the good news?