Minister’s Moment, November 2019
There is so much to pay attention to: the news, the election, the latest trends, the daily to-do list, and much more. So, as we head into a new month built around the theme of ATTENTION, I got to thinking about what we can let go of. What can we stop paying attention to? What can we put down in order to focus our limited attention on that which truly matters the most?
It turns out quite a bit! Only a few things really need our attention on any given day. The trick is to slow down and focus.
In an essay called “Set in Stone,” the Rev. Victoria Stafford writes about this by describing an epitaph she discovered one day on a walk through an old cemetery in New England. It said, “She attended well and faithfully to a few worthy things.”
Well how about that? At first it sounds sort of meager, but isn’t it profound? For what else can a person really do in life?
I find that these are words to live by. In a world that is constantly pulling my attention in a thousand different directions and threatening to leave me scattered and wild-eyed, I hope that I can someday say at the end of my life that I “attended well and faithfully to a few worthy things.”
How about you? What are the “worthy things” in your life? Are you paying attention to them? Of course, it takes practice and patience, so I hope you will join us all month long as we learn to focus our attention on that which matters most.
As you may have heard by now, the first few days in November I will be turning my attention to protecting our water resources. I am heading to a Spirit of Place Retreat on the shores of Lake Superior hosted by the Cedar Tree Institute in Marquette, MI. I will be joining up with other pastors, theologians, writers, ethicists, and environmentalists to take an in-depth look at water as a threatened global resource, to gain insights into the challenges facing North America’s Great Lakes, and to engage Judeo-Christian, Buddhist and Native American reflections on the theological dimensions of water.
It is a gift and a blessing to be able to use some of my study leave for this purpose and I look forward to sharing with you all about my experience and learnings in the months to come.