Looking at it from a different angle (not getting, but giving attention) it is just as challenging. We talk about it all the time - we are a culture of ADD and ADHD and multi-tasking, scanning and sound bites. How much time and energy are we actually able to give to really paying attention? to anything?
A couple of weeks ago we explored the passage in Luke 10:41-42, where Jesus calls out Martha on her lack of attention. He rebukes her for being worried and upset about many things when there is only ONE thing that is needed. I completely relate to Martha. This is my trap. It so easy to get worried about all the little things and forget to make time for the ONE thing that is truly needed.
In The Artist's Way, Julia Cameron speaks about attention. "The quality of life is in proportion, always, to the capacity for delight. The capacity for delight is the gift of paying attention." And, she says, "attention is an act of connection."
"Attention is an act of connection." We desire connection with God and with others, but paying attention is difficult because we are distracted. We talk about the times when we are able to get away to the mountains or the ocean and see amazing views and all of the sudden we see God everywhere in our surroundings.
But, it isn't only the scenery that has changed. It is us - we are actually seeing - we are paying attention. What might we see if we really looked in our own backyards?
Georgia O'Keefe said, "Nobody sees a flower, really. It is so small it takes time - we haven't time - and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time."
(Autumn's Glow, photograph on canvas, Carrie Schilling)
We talk a lot about "whole life worship" in our community - the idea that we are worshipping God all the time (especially in the everyday) and that our time of communal worship is an act of fellowship, but also a time to practice and learn in ordered to be prepared to worship in the everyday. Last night's gathering was a time to practice connection with God through acts of attention. A time to attend, see, look, taste, touch, smell, feel, that the Lord is good.
Carrie and Fred Schilling led us on a fascinating tour of their exhibit, OBSERVATIONS, in the Gallery at Convergence. What we learned was just how different the world can look when we slow down, change our perspective, go off the beaten path, really explore our back yards, get down on our knees or bellys and see patterns and shapes and colors and light. God is truly present in the beauty of creation as well as the browning, limping, imperfections.
There is nothing more worshipful to me than to see a group of people of all ages with cameras in hand engrossed in the project of of paying attention to what God has placed in front of them. Inspired by our tour we went out to complete our own photo assignment below. Later this week we will have the photos developed and some sort of project will come from that as well - I'll keep you posted.
In the meantime, feel free to take on this assignment yourself and post the results of your favorites here. Please post a response to your experience of taking time and really paying attention!
- Take a picture of something that immediately grabs your attention. Shift your perspective and take another shot.
- Take a picture of something that you think is ugly or boring. Step back or get closer and shoot it again. Take time to really see it.
- Shoot something that looks really alive
- Shoot something that looks really dead.
- Ask God to help you see the divine hand in everything you see. There is seeing and then there is seeing.