“The prayer of the contemplative is, essentially, an attention to the omnipresence of God. God is omnipresent not as a theological doctrine, but as the great silence that is present in every moment—but from which we are usually distracted by an overactive mind that refuses to wait in a humble unknowing for a pure wisdom from above [James 3:17].”
—Richard Rohr, Richard Rohr Meditation, “Beholding,” August 13, 2019
In her weekly newsletter on August 5, 2019 Joan Chittister discusses what it means to be a prophet and quotes Mary Oliver:
The poet Mary Oliver may have written the best definition of what it means to be a prophet in contemporary spirituality. She writes, “Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” (emphasis mine)
I seek to pay attention, I am constantly astonished, and with AttentiontoLife.com in all of its forms, I try to tell.
Krista Tippett: Here’s something else you wrote: “The outline of our lives, like the candle’s flame, is continuously coaxed in new directions by a variety of random events that, along with our responses to them, determine our fate.” You say that we are driven to see patterns and create patterns where the patterns aren’t there. But it seems to me that you’re also presenting our responses as mattering. There is randomness, and then you talk about that even though that is true, the number of chances taken, the number of opportunities seized does make a difference. It does shift things.
Leonard Mlodinow: …little things make a big difference. And what they really do is they raise opportunities for you. Or they raise challenges. And the course of your life depends on how you react to those opportunities and challenges that the randomness presents to you. If you’re awake and paying attention, you will find that things happen. They might seem good, they might seem bad. But the important thing is how you reacted to it. (emphasis mine)
After suddenly experiencing significant floaters in my left eye June 11, I visited my ophthalmologist. He diagnosed me with posterior vitreous detachment, a fairly common problem among folks of a certain age especially if they are very nearsighted. The vitreous of the eye changes consistency and pulls away from the retina causing the floaters. Usually there is not problem but in the first weeks, there is an increased risk of retinal detachment. So after assuring me that within weeks (to months) the floaters would settle, he suggested that I return in a few weeks to be checked but to let him know if there I saw any bright lights or dark veils. The next week I started having bothersome blurriness in the same eye so I returned for a checkup. It turned out there were a few spots on my retina that were bleeding slightly so my ophthalmologist referred me for an immediate visit to a retina specialist who, after a thorough examination, performed laser surgery to seal those spots and “tack” the retina. I left with very blurry vision and a slight headache (both temporary from the procedure) reassured that my eye was doing well and I could expect full recovery. I have had one follow-up exam which showed no further signs of deterioration and am trying to be patient while hoping that the floaters and blurriness dissipate soon. I was certainly unfamiliar with this problem but have since come to know several others with similar experiences. So thankful for astute and able health care providers.
Finding myself paying attention to my paying attention now. It’s a little weird.
“Listen to your life. Be silent at some point at least once every day. Enter the inner sanctuary of silence within your soul. Be attentive to the Spirit of God who dwells within you and who will speak within you, sometimes even too deep for words.”
-Br. Curtis Almquist
Society of Saint John the Evangelist, “Brother Give Us a Word Daily Messages,”
June 14, 2019
“To cultivate wisdom you need not read another book, nor watch another Ted talk, nor earn another academic degree, nor visit another monastery, nor travel to the ends of the earth. Be where you are, which is where God is with you. Say “yes” to life on the terms that God is giving you life just now; pay attention to your life (emphasis mine).”
-Br. Curtis Almquist
Society of Saint John the Evangelist, “Brother Give Us a Word Daily Messages,” June 7, 2019
At the Alumnae/i Reunion of Randolph-Macon Woman’s College and Randolph College, an alum of the Class of 1974, Kristin V. Rehder, presented her documentary exhibit, Where Hope Finds Home. She described how she came to know the folks presented in this “beloved community” in Lancaster, PA, refugees from 19 countries who are making a new home in the United States. Photographed in natural light, the gaze of her subjects extends beyond the photographer to the many witnesses of their lives–one of whom is now me. Articulate and inspirational, Kristin exemplified “attention to life” through the documentation of photographs with stories and the giving of friendship. It was an honor to attend her presentation and to know someone with such a heart for community both small and large.
(Please learn more about Kristin Rehder’s photography on her website, http://www.kvrehder.com.)