Paying Attention

Have you ever watched a young boy (or girl for that matter) analyze in amazement a bug crawling along the ground? It is almost as if he is transfixed on the wonder of it all. He watches intently as the numerous bug legs move in sequence and the bug body effortlessly progresses forward. Maybe the child’s curiosity propels him to poke at it once or twice with his finger. Or possibly he gets down on the ground, real close, eye level, putting his little cheek in the dirt and observes the bug from an intimate attached point of view.

Have you ever watched a little girl (or boy for that matter) gaze into the face of a flower and absorb the detail of each color and petal maybe for her very first time? It is as if the color and the tenderness of the flower textures become intimately joined to her through wonder and surprise and authentic realness. Maybe she reaches her little finger into the flower face to touch the color and feel the silky soft blossom. Her expression becomes lit with the wonder of something new, fresh, and beautiful.

When does that curiosity or wonderment of the magnificence of the created world dull? I know me; I can go all day long and never stop to notice a bug or flower or blade of grass or cloud. I can zoom through my very important hectic life and never realize I am passing up the marvel of a miracle in the moment. The tyranny of the urgent booms through the megaphone of my existence while the exquisiteness of creation passively blurs. When does that happen exactly? How do I let that happen? And how does that become okay?

I read part of a quote by Frederick Buechner from a passage of work called “Whistling in the Dark”. It speaks to my question. It says, “…Pay attention to the frog. Pay attention to the west wind. Pay attention to the boy on the raft, the lady in the tower, the old man on the train. In sum, pay attention to the world and all that dwells therein and thereby learn at last to pay attention to yourself and all that dwells therein.”

I stop noticing. Do you? I race. I zoom. I think really loud. I talk. I do. I text. I go. I rarely pause. I hurry. And while I do, the world, with all of its eternal splendor, wonder, and possibilities of all that dwell within, has not actually changed or dulled or blurred. It’s still there vibrant all the time, everywhere. I just don’t notice because I’m living too much like a grown up with worries, too little space between moments, and not enough breathe to linger and pay attention.

I used to believe that in the act of doing more, more would be made known. Where that is true on some levels, it is also lost on others. The blessing that comes with slowing down and not doing so much; putting space between the moments and quieting the urgency that interrupts, expands me. The blessing subtly shows up as a rose, an anthill, a big old tree, or a noiseless tide pool and it touches me, and all that dwells therein.


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