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Pay Attention

posted May 3, 2019, 12:56 PM by Tricia Sheffield

Greetings of peace in this season of Easter!


As I wrote earlier in the week, I had a very relaxing vacation. One of the things I’m grateful for about taking time off is first, I am able to take vacation. I am mindful that not everyone has this privilege. And second, vacation for me is about not adhering to a tightly organized schedule. Our lives are already so hyper-scheduled and busy-busy. I believe vacation should be a moment when one can do anything they wish, or not do anything at all. 


So it was for me last week. 


One thing I did want to do was go on a walk every day, weather permitting. I desired for this to be time with God, just us together. Each day I set off down the road I would say, “Okay, God. What are you going to teach me today? I’m listening.” And each walk God showed me something new: a spiritual blindspot I had regarding being uncharitable toward someone; the beauty of color in the trees and plants that is very different from the color of fall, and yet, it is color; remembering a long time friend and giving thanks that we could pick up wherever we left off last. My walks became a time of breath-prayer, breathing in the fragrance of spring, exhaling a word of gratitude. 


But one walking day was different than the rest. I was going along, admiring the lilacs and other flowers, distracted by their color and fragrance, when I tripped and stumbled over a tree root in the ground. Exasperated with myself, I said aloud, “Tricia! Pay attention! Look where you’re going!” (I could hear my mother’s voice saying those words to me. It was a repeated mantra while I was growing up). On I went, but two words kept playing over and over in my mind, Pay attention. Pay attention. I couldn’t get that phrase out of my head.


Later that afternoon, I sat in a comfy chair and opened the book I had been reading to the next chapter (Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans). And two words ended each paragraph, Pay attention. Hmmm. I put my book down and wondered to what or whom God wanted me to pay attention. I waited. And waited. And waited. No divine chorus showed up, no bright light shone, no vision came to give me my answer.


I got my answer this morning when I looked at the chapter again, knowing I wanted to write to you all about this pay attention experience. The chapter is called “Breath” and it’s about the Holy Spirit. Held Evans writes:


It is as near as the nose and as everywhere as the air, so pay attention.


It is as necessary and as dangerous as fire, so stay alert; pay attention.


It’s as invisible as your breath but as certain as your skin, so pay attention; don’t forget who you are.


There is no city, no village, no wilderness where you cannot find it, so pay attention.


So look up and sing back, catch the light of God in a diaphanous scrim of wing. Pay attention.


There are so many new things to see, so many gifts to give and receive, so many miracles to baffle and amaze, if only we pay attention, if only we let the Spirit surprise and God catch our breath.


I think I didn’t get my answer right away that day on my walk or during my first reading of the chapter because I had not been paying attention to her words, and had only focused in on the phrase, pay attention. But now, I know one thing: I am to pay attention more to how the Holy Spirit shows up in “so many miracles to baffle and amaze.” Beloved one, I pray you also will pay attention to the joy-filled wonder in your life that has its source in God. God’s love is everywhere; sometimes we just need to let go of our over-scheduled lives, take a “walk,” so to speak, and let God catch and hold our breath.


In gratitude for the joy of being your Pastor and the holy call of loving you,


Pastor Trish


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