The Spiritual Alphabet: A is for Attention

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“Pay attention. Stay awake and totally alert.
See with receptive eyes and discover a world of ceaseless wonders.”

 –Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat,
Spiritual Literacy, Reading the Sacred in Everyday Life

 

Attention, Please!

Did you know that the very first word in the “Alphabet of Spiritual Literacy” developed by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat is also the key to all the other words?  “Attention” fortunately begins with “A” as it is the beginning of all that follows; that is, our ability to experience beauty, compassion, faith, and so on, is dependent on our ability to pay attention.  Yes, it all begins here at the top of the alphabet. 

And yet, some say goldfish have a longer attention span than humans these days. Maybe that’s not quite right, but there does seem to be something wrong with our ability to focus, to be deeply aware, fully present, and spiritually awake to the “ceaseless wonders” of the world.

Attention is not only the linchpin of the spiritual life, but the key to problem solving, creativity, and civilization in general.  Without attention, democracy crumbles, forests are blithely cut down, and scientific advances flounder.  Without attention, we may devolve into a very stupid species that eventually self-destructs— if we are not yet already on that path.

But how did we get here?  Is technology the culprit? Are the constant pings and dings of digital media short-circuiting our brains?  Are smart phones making us stupid?  Maybe. But, I don’t think the problem is so much the presence of technology, but rather the absence of something else.  When speaking of the spiritual life, our addiction to technology is indeed worrying, but not fatal, that is, if we can get back to that “something else” that has been neglected. . . . .  To continue reading this post, click here. 🙂

 

 

 



Patience is All

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Do not measure in terms of time: one year or ten years means nothing.
For the artist there is no counting or tallying up; just ripening like the tree that does not force its sap and endures the storms of spring without fearing that summer will not come.  But it will come.  It comes, however, only to the patient ones who stand there as if all eternity lay before them—vast, still, untroubled.  I learn this every day of my life, I learn it from hardships I am grateful for: patience is all.  –
Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Patience, that long-suffering word, is
for our time, a holy place
where we can plant our yearnings
alongside hope and persistence,
like a garden planted in a neighborhood of despair.   
 
I long for the time when my country moves toward sanity,
When health care is declared a right for all,
When climate change is taken seriously,
When God and Caesar are not confused,
When vulgarity is not rewarded,
When Jesus no longer weeps. . . .  

 . . . to continue reading, click here