Sitting in the dining room with the cold sun peaking in the windows, I smell the chicken noodle soup simmering on the stove. Upstairs, my daughter plays with blocks, trains and dolls while my wife is at a big-box store gathering the extras we need to get by. These are the essentials of life like food, but the extras like toilet paper, deodorant and chicken bullion.
The past few months, I have felt the need to get away to think and pray. And so this past week, I joined a group of five other men at the cathedral downtown to pray for an hour and a half. Going into this time, you would have thought that I would be daunted by that length of time. I’d prayed for over an hour before, but not on a regular basis and certainly not recently. However, the time passed. I wouldn’t say it passed quickly, but it didn’t drag on either. The time passed, but the hard part was paying attention during that time. I tried to pay attention, but my thoughts would circle around my head, into my soul and then out the window into the world beyond. So I started to choose something to focus on, something to help me be attentive. I was attentive to a prayer structure, the sun light coming through the stained glass, the life-size crucifix hanging over the alter up front and my breathing…
And so it also made sense to pick up a new book this week called “The Attentive Life”, by Leighton Ford. He told me what I already knew…
…attentiveness is one of the most difficult concepts to grasp and one of the hardest disciplines to learn. For we are very distractible people in a very distracting world. God wants us to be attentive people, as he is an attentive God.
And after the hour and a half, I found that instead of feeling like I’d wasted the time, I had came to a new frame of heart and mind. I had a clearer view of God, the one who made me and pays attention to every hair on my head.
It was as if I had been reminded of something I’d forgotten in the business of life.
It was as if I had remembered that I was created to be attentive to God.
As I focused on the things created by artists, men and women of God, it was as if I was reminded, catching glimpses of God’s faithfulness. I saw pictures in the glass of God’s faithfulness through history and in prayer and remembered his faithfulness to me.
How easily I had forgotten.