Saturday, September 19, 2015

Reflections on Ivanhoe, Interruptions, and Personhood

Our current book discussion over on the AO Forum is Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe.  We are only about a third of the way through it, but thus far it is (to quote one of my dear book discussion friends) magnificent.  Scott really has a way with descriptions, both in his scenes as well as in his characters.   The insights we have gained into each character have been very thought provoking.   Consider the following interaction from chapter 16 between a waylaid knight lost in the woods as night draws near and a secretive friar (the 'anchorite') who is reluctant to let him in and seems to be trying to hide something:
"But how," replied the knight, "is it possible for me to find my way through such a wood as this, when darkness is coming on?  I pray you, reverend father, as you are a Christian, to undo your door, and at least point out to me my road."

"And I pray you, good Christian brother," replied the anchorite, "to disturb me no more.  You have already interrupted one pater, two aves, and a credo, which I, miserable sinner that I am, should, according to my vow, have said before moonrise."
~Sir Walter Scott, Ivanhoe

This interaction immediately struck me because my gut instinct was to dislike the Friar - he obviously hiding something and skirting around it (although the knight very cleverly draws him out, as you discover as you continue to read the chapter).   And yet, how often do I respond in the same way that he does?  To my children?  To my husband?  How often do I get disgruntled when I am interrupted in what I want to do or called out on something, and justify my disgruntled response based on the "virtue" behind what I got disrupted from?  A child interrupts my devotional or prayer time to come sit in my lap and I push them away.  Or they get into an argument in the other room while I am trying to complete some 'important' task on the computer and I need to break my thought process and step away with the task incomplete yet again.  Or my husband wants to talk and I'd rather read my book.  Or whatever.  The list of 'interruptions' could go on.
But what if maybe that 'disruption' is something that God is calling me to in that moment?  Attending to the needs of my children.  Cultivating my relationship with my husband.  Taking time to help a friend.    I keep coming back to some of the presentations made at the AO Conference this summer.    My children - and my husband too - were born People.  I love them.  They are not just 'projects'.  As a mother, wife, homeschooler, and homemaker, I need to learn seize those 10 minutes here and there – whether that is 10 minutes to attend to a child or 10 minutes to attend to my husband or 10 minutes to attend to myself or my personal project – and not get disgruntled when I can't seem to get more than that.   And I need to continue to cultivate a habit of keeping a running conversation with God in the back of my mind, so that my communion with Him is uninterrupted even when my focused devotional time is.
I kinda think if I could remember those things - that my interruptions are People, that 10 minutes may be all I have, and that He is ever present with me – I would be less disgruntled when someone comes knocking at my door.

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