So, I went to a meeting with other pastors today, and the day opened with Matins. And there was a family with kids there. And they sat right behind me. And there were points, especially during the sermon, when they were loud. Not just chatter and such - there were even bumps that made me wonder what super dense and tough material that kid's head must be made of.
So, what was this? Turn around being fair play for my children who make their noise? Cosmic Justice! There, there you go Pastor Brown, don't you see what your kids are doing to everyone!
I noticed something. I had to struggle a bit to pay attention.
Think on that. I had to work in order to pay attention. I was focused on paying attention. My listening had to be active.
And you know what - what was a good thing.
See, so often when we go to Church, we don't have to really pay all that close attention. It's easy. The music is plenty loud, the microphone should make the voice loud and clear. We can just kick back and relax... and not even really have to pay attention.
Is not really needing to pay attention in church a good thing?
I'll admit, my mind often wanders when I attend a service. Or I'll fall into a critique of what is going on - hwo the sermon is crafted, how things are being done (I had even been doing that in the first 5 minutes of the service when the kids were quiet). It's completely understandable - I am a professional, and when one professional sees another work, we look at the work.
And then the kids made noise. And I couldn't sort of listen while going off into my own la-la land. I had to work to pay attention. I had to focus on the words my brother pastor was saying, or else I would miss them -- and know that I missed them.
I think I heard more of that sermon than I had heard in a long time.
So - what does this mean?
No, I'm not suggesting that we need more distractions or something like this. But perhaps we should think about what it actually means to pay attention -- what effort we expect to (or ought to) put into paying attention.
I was glad for the noisy kids today. They were a blessing to me.