Pay Attention!

In his book “What Would I Believe if I Didn’t Believe Anything?” Kent Ira Groff writes this:

For each of us, our life is basically
defined by what we pay attention to.  Whatever occupies your
dominant concern is your religion.  That is why spiritual
traditions of East and West teach that simple awareness creates spiritual momentum.  It is the meaning of the Hebrew Shema: “Hear, listen, pay attention to Love…and you shall love….”
This same word is translated as “obey,” but then again obedience sounds moralistic.  This English word obey comes from the Latin ob-audio, meaning “listen toward.”  And “acoustics” comes from the New Testament Greek hyp-acouo: “listen beneath.”  Here is a liberating message for our audio culture swimming in acoustical guitars and amplifiers: Listen beneath the surface of life!  Listen toward life!

As I was driving to work this morning with the windows down and the
cool air blowing through, I realized that so much of my life is spent
bouncing from one thing to the next.  One of my grad school
professors would say that he felt like a moving target in the arcade
game of life.  I’ve felt that.  I FEEL THAT!!!!  I spend
hours — no, days — paying my homage to whatever concern is pressing
me at the time.  Whether it’s bills, work, kids, marriage, the
news, Mexican food, my waistline, whatever is directly in front of me seems to be what I pay
attention to.  I wonder if there is such a thing as spiritual
ADHD? 

Words like the ones above knock me back on my heels at times. 
“Life is basically defined by what we pay attention to.  Whatever
occupies your dominant concern is your religion.”  My fear is, for
myself and most of us in today’s society, that our religion basically
stops at the end of our noses.  “How will that effect me? 
What will I get out of it?  What’s it gonna cost me?”  These
are the questions of our days.  And they define religion for us —
as us! 

Groff goes on to share the famous words from Simone Weil: “Attention is
the only faculty of the soul that gives us access to God.” 
Attention.  Pay attention.  Listen.  Be still. 
Look for it.  See beyond your own nose.  These are the basic
spiritual disciplines for today.  We (church folks) get so caught
up in doing spirituality the right way (quiet time, prayer meetings,
Sunday School, etc.) that often we forget to pay attention to God’s
Spirit which is alive and well and working in the world today. 
He’s calling us to pay attention to the opportunities in front of
us.  The blessings around us.  He’s calling us to do
something religious — like working to heal the AIDS epidemic in
Africa, helping the crisis in Sudan, cleaning up after two hurricanes
in Florida, visiting a sick friend in the hospital, writing a note
to someone that is lonely today, or just notice the change in the weather.  Whatever it is that He wants us
to learn today…we’ll only learn if we PAY ATTENTION!

Enjoy the Journey (by paying attention to each step)!

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~ by Chris Green on September 8, 2004.

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