Being neither here nor there

Today I was sitting in the doctor’s office waiting for my son to have his arm x-rayed. (He broke it a couple of weeks ago jumping off of a swing.) We had been in our assigned room for what seemed like an eternity. Does time slow down when you are in a doctor’s treatment room or does it just seem like that? Fortunately we had both brought good books with us. It was strange sitting in a small room for an extended period of time – probably about 25 minutes – and not talking to each other. But we were both engrossed in what we were reading.

At one point, however, I stopped reading because I was distracted. There was a woman in one of the rooms nearby who boomed out her words like she was conversing with someone down the hall. She pulled my attention from my book like she was yanking a weed from her front yard. The trouble was that when I actually decided to listen to her, I couldn’t quite make out what she was saying. I caught about every third word. “Sister… is raising… daughter… don’t tell… raise… I know… do… kids…” To tell the truth, although I wasn’t too concerned about the story the woman was telling. I was irritated that I couldn’t catch it when I tried to tune in. That was when I realized that I was in the strange position of being neither here nor there. Mentally I wasn’t in our room with my son and my book, nor was I down the hall with the bellowing woman. I was without a place. I was uprooted.

It occurs to me that we are neither here nor there a lot more often than we would like to admit. Our pace of life keeps it that way. So does the vast array of input sources that assail us every day. Between cell phones, radios, CD players, ever more ubiquitous TVs, and the like, we have a difficult time maintaining maximum awareness of anything. Our attention becomes fragmented between all the different inputs. We live in a near continual state of distraction.

Being neither here nor there is the lousiest place to be, because it is no place at all. It would be better to be fully here or fully there. When we are neither here nor there, we are like disembodied spirits, floating between this world and the next. We would do better to take our cue from the incarnate Christ, who was fully here among us. He was not distracted. There was no “neither here nor there” with Jesus. May we imitate him well.

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