The Discipline of Attentiveness

Mick Turner

If ever a passage in scripture was in need of a fresh perspective, it is where Paul tells us that we are to “pray without ceasing.” I know in my own case, praying daily is discipline enough, but this business of praying without let up is more than a little overwhelming. Obviously, there is a subtle, deeper meaning here.

I have come to view mindfulness as being prayer. When I am mindful of the moment before me, when I give myself to whatever task I am doing without distraction, then that is prayer. Barbara Brown Taylor says that prayer is:

….waking up to the presence of God no matter where I am or what I am doing. When I am fully alert to whatever or whoever is right in front of me; when I am electrically aware of the tremendous gift of being alive; when I am able to give myself wholly to the moment I am in, then I am in prayer.

I find this author’s words both challenging and inspirational. For years now, with God’s help, I have made efforts to be “fully alert” to whatever or whoever is right in front of me. I have not always been successful, far from it, but I have made solid improvement. Over time, with diligent effort and divine assistance from the Holy Spirit, I, too, had those blessed moments where I felt “electrically aware of the tremendous gift of being alive.” These moments were always filled with awe, pregnant with meaning, and elicited from me a sense of what Jewish theologian Abraham Heschel calls “radical amazement.”

When you get right down to it, our lives are played out in a series of moments. Each of these moments have the capacity to be life-changing moments, but we often fail to see this because we are too caught up in our own dramas and distractions to notice that we are standing in the midst of sacredness.  Yet the fact is each moment we move through is pregnant with potential and myriad possibilities – possibilities that often indeed house divine messages just for us if we have the eyes to see and the ears to hear. I especially love how Erwin Raphael McManus, pastor of Mosaic in Los Angeles describes the power of the divine moment:

However mundane a moment may appear, the miraculous may wait to be unwrapped within it. You rarely know up front the eternal significance of a moment. When a moment is missed, you have a glimpse at an opportunity lost. When you dream, you look to a moment still to come. The moment that you must seize right now is the one in front of you. …..Yet moments are not independent, isolated, or disconnected. What you do with this moment affects every moment to come. This is your moment. The biblical imagery for a moment is the wink of an eye. In other words, don’t blink or you’ll miss it.

to be continued…….

(c) L.D. Turner 2010/All Rights Reserved

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