Paying Attention

Stardate: 17th day, 5th month, 2020       Paying Attention

     Simultaneously as pandemic restrictions are loosening, signs of spring are exploding all over our country. Wildflowers are erupting, birds are serenading, and the glorious sun is warming our faces from its new height in the sky. In the Kootenays, the balsamroot or “sunflowers” as they are affectionately known, transform the dreary brown hills into natural gardens of splendor. There are visible and audible signs of hope everywhere.

     Today is also the beginning of the week dedicated to remembering Laudato Si’ (the Encyclical letter on the care of our common home). Pope Francis invites us to celebrate the 5th anniversary of Laudato Si’ (https://laudatosiweek.org/ ) by “undertaking a shared commitment to help build and strengthen constructive attitudes aimed at caring for creation” (Vatican news, 2020). How exactly do we become better stewards for our common home?

     It is my belief that we need to fall in love with Mother Earth in order to protect and value her. Perhaps this time of quarantine is providing the perfect opportunity to reaffirm this love with all of creation—we have time to listen, to really see, and to breathe in the balm of new life. Here is a brief focusing directive to open up your senses: You may do this by yourself or with a partner. Place yourself in a location where there are trees and greenery—your backyard works!

  1. Go outdoors, somewhere away from the noise of traffic (which can be your own neighborhood these days!!)  Bring an art journal or writing pad and a pencil.
  2. Close your eyes and count backwards from 10. When you reach 0, allow yourself to listen carefully to the sounds around you. Open your eyes and write down 6 things that you hear.
  3. Close your eyes again and count back from 10. Now pay attention to your olfactory senses. Breathe in deeply and write down 5 things that you can smell.
  4. Close your eyes one more time and count back from 10. Reach out and touch your surroundings (without opening your eyes) and record 4 things that you can feel.
  5. Open your eyes and observe the first 3 things you see. Record these in your journal. You may choose to draw a small image of your observations too.
  6. Spend a few minutes writing about this experience. Were there any surprises? Did some of the sensations remind you of another time or place? Which of your senses was most attuned to this experience? If done with a partner, compare & contrast your results.