Monday, October 05, 2015

Undistraction Increases God-Attraction

Mushroom in my backyard.

When I was a music theory major I had to take classes on individual instruments, one of which was piano. I had to learn some very basic piano skills. This, of course, required practice. 

The university music practice rooms were empty, except for a piano, a piano bench, and sometimes a chair for the teacher to occupy. Austerity was the rule. There were no pictures on the walls. It was the ultimate anti-sports bar environment (no multiple flat screen tvs). There was nothing to divert one's eyes and attention away from the focus, which was the instrument. You cannot learn the instrument without concentration.

I once had a student who was a Coptic monk. He lived at the Monastery of St. Anthony of Egypt of the Fourth Century. He called his room a "cell." His cell had only a bed and four walls that were bare except for a cross. A music practice room is like a monastic cell, each containing one thing, which is the object of one's focus.

Both rooms are spaces that promote purity of heart. They are places of least distraction; focused environments that are serious about purpose. There the distracted mind is channeled into the river where all things flow.

Jesus told his disciples to pray in their secret room (Matthew 6:6; tameion), with the door closed. These rooms were austere and bare-walled, except for perhaps symbols of a fish or a cross (see, e.g., James Charlesworth on the discovery of the house of Peter). The uncluttered prayer chamber facilitated focus on God. Undistraction increases the possibility of God-attraction.

Jesus often withdrew to lonely places where he prayed. 
(Luke 5:16) 

In such places praying is more effective.