And while he was going. . . a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years . . .came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment.
When I was growing up I didn’t have Attention Deficit Disorder, because it hadn’t been invented yet. In high school I was called “The Gaper” because my mouth, apparently, would hang open while I daydreamed in class. In my freshman year of college I won the “Neil Armstrong Spacey Award” because I was so . . . spacey.
When they finally got around to inventing ADD, I took a test from a licensed psychologist, and it turned out I had come down with a bad case of it.
Learning to focus your thoughts and goals is challenging for anyone. But it is especially difficult when your mind wants to wander down any side street it sees.
I have spent my adult life learning how to focus. But lately I have come to realize it is equally important to learn how not to be too focused, because when you get too focused you can’t see gorillas.
Psychologists from Harvard conducted an experiment in which they played a video of basketball players. Participants were told to count the number of times the ball was passed by the team wearing a certain color uniform. In the middle of the video, however, strange things happened. A woman with an umbrella or a man in a gorilla costume would walk through the center of the court and would be clearly visible for about five seconds.
A control group, who were not asked to count the number of times the basketball was passed, all saw the woman and the gorilla. But, for those asked to focus on the task of counting passes, only a third saw the woman. And, amazingly, the majority (56 percent), failed to notice the gorilla.
Jesus was a master at being focused and unfocused at the same time. When he “set his face” to go to Jerusalem to die, nothing could deter him. Yet, at the same time, he was open to notice the needs of people around him.
Jairus, a synagogue ruler, pleads with Jesus to come with him because his only daughter is dying. Jesus has a clear focus – he wants to help. In doing that, he ignores the crowds pressing in on him.
But, at the same time, he is open to one person who touches his tassel. “Who touched me?” he asks. Peter is dumbfounded by Jesus’ question, and helpfully points out that many people are touching him. They are, in fact, mobbing him. Yet, Jesus is aware that one person in the crowd was different.
That day, Jesus did two miracles. One, because he focused on a goal; the other, because he was sensitive to the unexpected.
How do you do both at the same time? I don’t know. But I know it’s worth learning.
copyright 2012 by Marty Kaarre