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disruption

Hiking in the Alps 2014
The last month has been a bit disruptive. In the midst of finishing my doctoral comprehensive exams, writing a paper for a conference, Christmas preparations, spending a week with family in western Canada, traipsing all over Switzerland, attending a conference just outside of Zurich, and diving right into teaching a course the day after I got back from Europe, some of my usual practices were disrupted. There were no blogs, my workout went out the window, quiet and contemplative times were sporadic, gluten was more abundant, sleeping habits were affected, and housework was neglected. Despite this, for the most part I have felt energetic and encouraged. And I did read quite a few books due to the amount of time I spent in planes and trains.

In general, I don't mind disruptions - in fact, I get kind of antsy and restless if the same old stuff happens day after week after month after year. I love good disruptions like vacations, unexpected dates with Dean, phone calls from family far away, chance encounters with friends, and invitations to participate in unique adventures. However, even good disruptions can turn into something not so good if we let them displace healthy habits and practiced virtues. A good vacation can turn ugly pretty quickly if it becomes a respite not only from work but also from courtesy, patience, and common sense. I witnessed some of that in my travels. Taking the occasional break from a workout, diet, or spiritual discipline is usually no big deal, but too much disruption can erode the benefits we have worked so hard to gain in our body, soul, and spirit. Today I got back to my workout and I could tell it had been a month - my legs and lungs were burning. It has also been a bit tougher to settle into times of quiet and contemplation because of the whirlwind past few weeks, but I'm getting there, bit by bit. Disruptions help me appreciate the necessity and value of good habits and disciplines, and after a disruption, I often come to them with fresh vigour and enthusiasm.

Obviously bad disruptions, which are basically some level of disaster, are to be avoided. However, bad disruptions can work good things into our lives, too, because they can challenge us to become more truthful, more loving, more courageous, more generous, and more reliant on God and those around us. Disruptions, both good and bad, can make us better people if we let them.

As I find my way back to a regular schedule, let me be open to disruptions that will help and let me turn away from those that will hinder. And may I have the wisdom to know the difference.

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