Attention and Awareness

“It is attention and awareness, in other words, that the Rule of Benedict brings to spirituality. Indeed, the very reason the rule of Benedict is not a rule in the strictest sense of the word is precisely because immersion in life is exactly the point of Benedictine monasticism. Benedictism is not a prescription frozen in time; it is time brought under the scrutiny of gospel values. the Benedictine does not set out to avoid life; the Benedictine sets out to live the ordinary life extraordinarily well. as a result, the real monastic is alive to the world.” (Joan Chittister, Wisdom Distilled from the Daily, 8).

What does it mean to live with attention and awareness? I feel like we talk about these things so much around here. A grateful spirit. Hope despite exhaustion. Wholeheartedness in daily life. Vulnerability in relationships. Seeing the world for its remarkableness. Noticing need and responding to it. Can any of those things happen if we aren’t first praying? If we aren’t looking for something to actually be attentive to? Just wondering about these things today…

What do you think it means to be “alive to the world”?


Filed under the Praying Life

4 Responses to Attention and Awareness

  1. Perhaps it means things like this: fully inhabiting your body, no matter what particular shape it is in at any given moment - being grateful for it, no matter its limitations; fully inhabiting your family, asking God daily to give you that rare ability to be ‘in the moment’ each moment, not jumping ahead, worrying about what comes next nor dipping backwards, regretting what was or was not done; living in a spirit of gratitude as much as you can - a la Ann V with a written list OR a la Ignatius, with a prayer of examen every day - looking back over the day for signs of Christ present or signs of ignoring him - giving thanks for all of it, for one is a celebration and the other is an opportunity for growth; fully inhabiting your outside-the-home job, if you have one - being present for co-workers or clients, moving through the day with a sense of an undergirding prayer of relinquishment; finding time each week (each day, if at all possible) to be silent in God’s presence - basically re-fueling, re-attaching, re-membering whose you are and where you are centered. Also maybe trying to earn and practice a new (or re-visit a former) spiritual exercise/discipline - maybe once a quarter or so? - finding the ones that resonate with how you are wired. GREAT question, Micha. Thank you.

  2. Ah…ummm….make that ‘Learn’ a new spiritual exercise rather than earn. Freudian slip, eh? Gotta watch out for those!

    • Love these thoughts, Diana. I think I’m going to write them down. I love your thought about moving through the day with a sense of relinquishment. I wouldn’t have known how to describe that but I know that my most aware/prayerful days have that quality. Thank you for sharing!

  3. I wish I knew, Micha. Here’s the thing. I start every day with the hope that, today, Christ would be at the forefront of my mind, all the time. That I would always be aware of where he is moving, and what he wants me to notice. And then I find too often that I am at the end of my day and I haven’t noticed it in the moment. I love this quote though because it makes me think that it isn’t as hard as I am making it… that somehow the simple act of making birthday cupcakes, or reading to my kids, becomes holy because it is Christ in me. And that my life, given to him each morning, is his, even when I am not thinking of him. Am I making any sense here? I am such a touchy feely person, though, and I think that is what makes me desire the constant reminder of his presence in every moment. Is that too much to ask or is that a reality for some people? I’m just starting to think that “alive to the world” might not “feel” exactly like I thought it might….it might not “feel” like anything except the contentedness of snuggling your baby’s cheek at the end of an exhausting day, or peace and confidence in God’s goodness in the midst of a lot of hard stuff. And I’m starting to think if I just make it my purpose in life is to know and love Jesus, that he does all the work of making me alive to the world in whatever way impacts his kingdom and glorifies him the most. Is that simplifying it too much? Ahhh….so many thought…not enough space. :)

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