Everyone, however, who wishes to enter the second Mansions, will be well advised, as far as his state of life permits, to try to put aside all unnecessary affairs and business. (Teresa of Avila, First Mansions, Chapter 2)
Teresa warns us about distractions. When bitten by reptiles we can become consumed with things like possessions, honors, excessive activity, and pleasure. The reptile bite seems harmless at first; however, if the poison gets into our system we become distracted from our spiritual life and make little progress in the Interior Castle. Of course, we never plan to get sidetracked, but Teresa says, “We are tricked by all kinds of deceptions.”
The Devil is deceptive like a baseball pitcher. With movement on his fastball and an outstanding change-up he has us chasing a lot of “bad pitches”. Just as the batter has to respond to deceptive pitching with disciplined hitting, we need to lay off the bad pitches the Devil throws us. We do this, in part, through a disciplined life with clear priorities. The schedule is the key tool in a priority-focused life. Annie Dillard said, “The schedule defends from chaos and whim.” Distractions can come from the outside (chaos) or our own weaknesses (whim). Ultimately we will build a life around distractions or build a life around priorities.
Distracting us hardly seems worth the Devil’s time because simple distractions seem inconsequential. That is why his strategy works so well. He doesn’t need us to commit some colossal sin; he just needs to distract us for several decades so we don’t make a difference in the world. We are lulled to sleep because it is difficult to assess the intergenerational damaged caused by marginal living.
I encourage you to know your priorities, schedule them, and avoid distraction. Just because a pitch looks good coming in doesn’t mean you should swing at it.
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