Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Jumping Monkeys

Jumping monkeys. I've known about them all my life but never had a name for them.

They are the distractions that take you off course. The pot that boils dry on the stove because a young man has come to your front door trying to earn money to go to camp. The Sunday paper that you read all the way through when all you intended to do was read the comics. The cobwebs that catch your eye when you are on your way to get something from the garage, and then, when you're hunting for a rag to get the cobwebs you find that someone has left their garden shoes right in your path so you clear out a corner near the back door of the garage to store the shoes and run to your kid's room to find the little shelf to keep the garden shoes on and while you're in the bedroom you see the overdue library book that everyone in the family has been looking for so you take it to the table in the front hall and see that the mail has come and needs to be sorted...

I remember the Family Circus cartoon from many years ago that had Billy taking the absolute most zigzaggy trip to the grocery store to get something for his mom that she needed "right away" so she could finish making dinner. Oh, that's me. I've been bugged by my propensity to distraction for years. Drives me nuts! Is it the curse of the creative mind? Maybe it's just me.

Sunday Pastor Pat introduced the congregation to jumping monkeys. He was talking about prayer, specifically spending time waiting on God. Now if that's not a time for the distractions to invade our minds, I don't know what is. He said Henri Nouwen called those distractions jumping monkeys and he flashed this picture onto the screen:

Photo Credit

They are so cute I couldn't take my eyes off them. Having a good time too, they are! Jumping monkeys giggle and squeal, make faces, and perform silly antics to get your attention. At last I knew what to call those pesky distractions that keep knocking me off course.

So what did he say to do about them? Wave to them (acknowledge their presence) then turn your back and ignore them!

Simple to say; hard to do. But now that I know that the distractions are silly little monkeys putting on a show for me, the wisdom of Pat's advice is plain.

So if you or one of your children or someone else you care about struggles to stay on task, dub those distractions as jumping monkeys and see if that doesn't help!


Mrs.N said...

Ahhh...monkey mind. I know it well. But over the years I've gotten better at focusing on the moment, on the task at hand. I can relate to your post!

barefootmommy said...

Ha! I am so much the jumping monkey person. It took a nasty cold to get this through my thick skull this week. I just finished a blog post related to this sunday's sermon too!