attention

All of my life has been a relearning to pray

All of my life has been a relearning to pray—a letting go of incantational magic, petition, and vain repetition ""Me Lord, me," instead of watching attentively for the light that burns at the center of every star, every cell, every living creature, every human heart.

~ Chet Raymo in NATURAL PRAYERS as quoted in EARTH'S ECHO by Robert Hamma
Natural Prayers
By Chet Raymo

Even the smallest moment is full of happiness

Each age has its own tasks. For most of us now, our monasteries have no walls except the silence our meditation gathers to the center of our lives, and this is enough—it is more than enough. Our hermitage is the act of living with attention in the midst of things; amid the rhythms of work and love, the bath with the child, the endlessly growing paperwork, the ever-present likelihood of war, the necessity for taking action to help the world. For us, a good spiritual life is permeable and robust. It faces things squarely knowing the smallest moments are all we have, and that even the smallest moment is full of happiness.

~ from THE LIGHT INSIDE THE DARK by John Tarrant, as reprinted in AN ALMANAC FOR THE SOUL by Marv and Nancy Hiles

Having new eyes

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes.

~ Marcel Proust

Keeping Silent Watch

When all striving ceases
I awaken to behold
Ever-present Awareness
Keeping silent watch.

~ Thomas Keating

I don't know exactly what a prayer is

I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?

~ excerpt from Mary Oliver's The Summer Day

May 2014 (Vol. XXVII, No. 5)

In this little corner of the world we welcome spring, made all the sweeter by the relentlessness of the passing winter. So many treasures in nature are tiny, unassuming graces— diminutive wildflowers, wriggling tadpoles, crimson ladybugs, and the melodic double songs of the brown thrasher. To blink or hurry by is to miss them. We live in a smog of attention deficit disorder; I don't mean the children, but all of us on this treadmill of overstimulation. In this culture of too much, too busy, too distracted, too bombarded, can we learn to sift through the chaos and lift out the truly important? I have become almost obsessed with butterfly watching— luminous wings call to me as if to say, follow my flight path, sit patiently while I feel the sun's warmth on my wings, see how I unfurl my perfect little straw to sip this nectar. I want to learn how to focus on small, sacred moments that nurture the soul.

October 1993 (Vol. VI, No. 9)

GREETINGS and BLESSINGS be yours, friends! As leave fall to the earth and surrender to the soil, may we, too, move our attention from the outer world to the Inner Being. As we move toward a season of stillness, may our path be straight, returning to the Source. Listen. The stillness calls to you.

With little attention anywhere

... we overlook so many joys, so many hidden treasures, when we hurry from place to place, person to person, experience to experience, with little attention anywhere. All that matters passes before us now, at this moment. It has been said the greatest gift we can give one another is rapt attention; additionally, living life fully attentive to the breezes, the colors, the sorrows and joys as well, is the most prayerful response any of us can make in this life.

~ from Each Day a New Beginning: Daily Meditations for Women by Karen Casey

The listening heart

Sometimes little forgotten souls may need to pour out their hearts from sheer empty loneliness. Blessed is the one who is called to listen to their tales with an understanding heart, for love and light. Often just the call to sit quietly and listen may be the power of bestowing the most divine benediction of all. The gift of listening with an understanding heart is a divine gift to be developed by all. For, it is the listening heart that is prepared for the full outpouring of the gift of light. It is the listening heart alone that can hear the voice of God.

~ from SONS OF GOD by Christine Mercie
Sons of God
By Christine Mercie

Bring your heart back

If the heart wanders or is distracted, bring it back to the point quite gently -- and even if you do nothing during the whole of your prayer but bring your heart back, though it went away every time you brought it back, your time would be very well employed.

~ St. Francis de Sale
Introduction to the Devout Life
By Francis De Sales
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