Sunday, July 06, 2014

Distraction-proof liturgy

There are many who live in the mountains and behave as if they were in the town; they are wasting their time. It is possible to be a solitary in one's mind while living in a crowd; and it is possible for those who are solitaries to live in the crowd of their own thoughts. — Amma Syncletica

The photo is of three rocks, set outside a tea house at a temple in Kyoto. The rocks would be set on the path when a tea ceremony was in progress, to keep passers-by from accidentally interrupting the proceedings.  

PrayTell posted my question about materials for engaging young children in the liturgy in their Non Solum feature.  It's a holiday weekend, so there hasn't been much discussion, but the little there has been is fascinating.  I asked about ways to engage children with the liturgy itself, not for strategies for keeping them amused while the rest of us participate.  But of the three comments there, two are about how to prevent children from being distractions (avoid liturgies at which they are present, don't bring loud toys for them).  

Can we distraction-proof a liturgy? Should we?  Push the children aside until they are "fully conscious" of what they are about (are any of us fully conscious of what we are about in this space?)?  What about the cell phones going off?  The man with dementia who mutters loudly during the homily?  Could we silence the hiss of the oxygen tank used by the man in the front row?  And even if we could get the distracting people out of the church, would we stop the train that rumbles by, a mere forty feet away from the ambo? I think not.

Perhaps the deeper question is how do we have Amma Syncletica's undistracted minds living in a crowded church?

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