Attentiveness to God’s heart leads to attentiveness to my own heart. Attentiveness to my heart prepares me to be attentive to the heart of another.
— Lane Arnold
When it comes to my spiritual life, my deepest desire is to be with God, to imitate Jesus, and be in tune with Holy Spirit.
There’s a spiritual discipline that helps me grow in that direction.
Attentiveness. Being present. Staying focused. Awareness.
By entering into the spiritual practice of paying attention, I am able to enter into presence with God, with myself, and with others. Yet how easy it is to drift through the days, unaware.
Ella WHO? offers a comic glimpse of an unaware family. On moving day, with doors open and people going in and out, a smallish elephant finds her way into the family’s new house. A little girl, attentive to the elephant’s needs, tries her best to catch the attention of her highly-distracted family. In the process, they miss out on meeting the uninvited guest, who they all think is named Ella.
Ella, WHO? provides laughter when read to grandchildren, and serves as a subtle elbow into my attentiveness meter. Who among us hasn’t been distracted, preoccupied, or a bit absent-minded?
Certainly, I’ve been known to get sidetracked and miss the focus I intended.
Yet I want to be otherwise. I want to move and have my being with God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit by starting from a place of responsive awareness.
Like Dallas Willard says,
“The first act of love is always the giving of attention.”
Though the spiritual practice of attentiveness, we can discover more of God’s character, engage our body in such a manner that our prayers don’t become diverted, and find pieces of ourselves or others that we overlooked.
What would it look like to be fully present to who God is in any given moment of my life?
How would that bring me into deeper intimacy with God?
How might that shift who I am growing to be and how I see the wonder of another person?
Birdwatchers act from a space of awareness. They notice the flit of color, the dip of leaves in the bush, the trill of song creating sound waves of beauty. From a stance of stillness and intense focus, these observers of feathered wonders choose where to direct their attention, so they don’t miss the moment at hand.
I’m choosing to notice my noticing, attend to my attentiveness, hone in on the holy presence of God right here, right now. Like birders, I want to be one whose delight is in observing what is at hand.
I choose silence. I choose stillness. I choose pondering what is right in front of me.
I choose ways to engage my body in my prayer times. Sometimes, that is kneeling. Sometimes I pray with my body flat on the floor. Other times, I am dancing in jubilant praise or interceding with hands over my head. Are there ways you might choose to pray that could help you stay more attentive to your words spoken and to the words you listen for as God speaks?
“I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore, my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will dwell securely.” (Ps. 16:8-9, NASB)
By setting my heart on God, I get to know Him. Attentiveness invites me deeper in.
How about you?
What might deepen your attentiveness to God, yourself, and others?
What’s one small step you could take today to try out a new way of savoring presence?