"The secret of beginning a life of deep awareness and sensitivity lies in our willingness to pay attention....
Our growth as conscious, awake human beings is marked not so much by grand gestures and visible renunciations as by extending loving attention to the minutest particulars of our lives...
Every relationship, every thought, every gesture is blessed with meaning through the wholehearted attention we bring to it.
...without attention we live only on the surface of existence.
It is just simple attention that allows us truly to listen to the song of a bird, to see deeply the glory of an autumn leaf, to touch the heart of another and be touched.
We need to be fully present in order to love a single thing wholeheartedly. We need to be fully awake in this moment if we are to receive and respond to the learning inherent in it."
I read this on 'Stillness Speaks' and it is hugely true and powerful.
How often do we pay full attention to something - the details of our new insurance on an item over the phone, when the voice seems to drone on and on? How about when we set up our new piece of equipment, or the current set up for Coronavirus restrictions still in place in Wales and in the Church in Wales? I think often we feel we pay full attention and are aware in that moment, but frequently this isn't so.
When someone comes to my door, which is often and lovely too, I try and focus totally upon them, but when someone passes by out of the corner of my eye and I give a wave or say hello, I have broken my full concentration on the person speaking to me at the doorstep. It is so much easier when we are allowed to invite them inside! What about you, when someone asks to join you on a walk, is that just an opportunity for company or it is someone who needs to share something with you? Do you seize an opportunity or miss it in the busyness?
There is so much which can, and may, enrich us just by living with the moment, perhaps paying closer attention. There is so much we can miss and never know about too. When you see a beautiful flower, is it just a thing of beauty, or something which brightens up a drab area or an opportunity that draws us closer to God? Is a holiday just a time for a change in daily routine, an opportunity to relax and unwind somewhere different or an opportunity to discover God in different places and be touched in the moment? When we receive Holy Communion, is it just time for something we always do, a time to be united with the family of God at the rail or an encounter as the Body of Christ is placed into our outstretched hands, which allows us into a much deeper relationship with the Lord? Is that moment intensely sacred or one of routine acceptance?
We all need to pay more attention, to fully concentrate on the moment, so that we can respond to it, not half heartedly but fully. Thomas Merton says:
“You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope.”
Let us this day try to pay full attention to things, to live in that moment and to respond to that awareness and to allow ourselves space, time and silence in our prayer life so we can respond to that moment.