Day 10 Pay Attention! Look!
The easiest way to fall in love with God’s creation is to pay attention to it. For without paying due attention you fail to notice its true beauty, its intricate wonder, and do not allow it to win your heart with awe. Basically, we have begun to take our beautiful world for granted and, as in all relationships, once we begin to do that we lose touch with what made us fall in love in the first place. And yes, there was a time when we were very much in love with our world. When we were children we were filled with awe over a tiny daisy or a flowing stream or brook, they could hold our attention for a long time. As we get older we shift that capacity for attention onto other things, and sadly begin to take our natural world for granted. Learning to look at our world with due attention again is so important.
As I write this particular reflection I am sat on a bank in Appledore, North Devon, on a lovely summers day. I am high up looking out over the bay. It is a beautiful sight, it is mesmerising. But as I look down to write about it in my journal, it is only then that I notice the bright yellow dandelions on the ground in front of me, and am drawn to their particular unique contribution to the scene. They easily become lost and unnoticed in the panoramic vastness of the view before me, and yet, they are also an exquisite part of the scene. When I take time to truly look at the dandelions, I also notice the grasses, the dock leaves, and the clover that surround them; the bees visiting them, the occasional butterfly hovering around them. Then I notice the gentle breeze that moves through the grasses, giving them a gentle sway. It is a whole captivating world in itself; a world that is worth my time noticing it, giving it my full attention, appreciating its existence and its role within our world. And yet, with eyes drawn to the obvious beguiling view ahead of me, it can be so easily missed.
“Look!” said the poet Mary Oliver in one of her poetic creations. “Look! Look!” said Gerald Manley Hopkins, and many other poets before and since. For if we do not take time to look, we fail to notice, and we never get to fall in love.
Look at the birds of the air!
Pay attention to the lilies of the field!
Gerard Manley Hopkins (from A Starlit Night)
Look at the stars! Look, Look up at the skies!
O look at all the fire-folk sitting in the air!
The bright boroughs, the circled-citadels there!
Said Mary Oliver.
Said Gerard Manley Hopkins.
Said Thich Nhat Hanh.
Experience what is here!
Said Thomas Merton.
Watch! Behold! and pray
The Buddha silently held a flower
Is it not our purpose, our privilege,
To become absorbed in the world around us,
And be captured in delight and awe?
Why else are we here?
Look and See by Mary Oliver
This morning, at waterside, a sparrow flew
to a water rock and landed, by error, on the back
of an eider duck; lightly it fluttered off, amused.
The duck, too, was unprovoked, but, you might say, was laughing.
This afternoon a gull sailing over
our house was casually scratching
its stomach of white feathers with one
pink foot as it flew.
Oh Lord, how shining and festive is your gift to us, if we
only look, and see.