The pictures in this post were all taken during my walk to work this morning.
Several weeks ago, Randy Loewen, a Chaplain at Hope Mission happened to mention to me that he enjoyed one of my posts. He said it was fairly observant. (Well, one out of a hundred-plus is not exactly major league, but Iâ€™ll take it.)
We talked more and agreed that the attention given to the art of observance was scanty. True, some people are more observant than others. Perhaps more accurately, different people observe different things. And this is a good thing; in fact crucial for community.
But in the broad sweep, we thought that our powers of observation were wanting. Certainly there will be things that always escape us. In fact good filters keep us from information overload. Essential for psychological health, especially in our time.
But this is something other than our waning ability to live within our bodies, present to the moment. I know my own experience is that self-occupation, in all its guises, easily becomes preoccupation and keeps me from engaging the stories, the events, the moments of genuine life going on all around me.
And thatâ€™s the thing. So much life goes on around us, and only in pausing do we pick it up. Weâ€™re often guilty of having eyes and ears but not seeing or hearing.
I remember becoming wide awake to this. It was ten years ago. I was sitting in a lawn chair, appropriately on the front lawn of our acreage in Stony Plain, reading Thomas Mertonâ€™s, "New Seeds of Contemplation". And I remembered several childhood moments as as if Iâ€™d been transported through time. My observance of life was strong then. What I didnâ€™t remember was how I lost this.
So for the past decade Iâ€™ve tried, with varying degrees of success, to be intentional about observance. And I have placed things in my life that hopefully cultivate this. For example, I have belonged to the same small group for the past six years. Our watchword is, “Come and See“. Also, I continue to read Thomas Merton and authors like him. And my mentor, Father James, always helps bring me back, demonstrates in his own being, that a discipline of observance can become the art of observance.
All these things help me appreciate even a brief and simple moment, standing talking to Chaplain Randy and hearing his own reflection on observanceâ€¦which woke me up yet again to its importance.