“The things that frighten us just want to be held.” ― Mark Nepo
I was looking for a new eye doctor recently. I was new in town, so, I picked one on the recommendation of a friend. It took a long time before the office got back to me. Two months in fact--good thing all I needed was a routine eye exam. Turns out, just before my call, the physician had suffered a massive heart attack--45 years old. Well, we got to talking that first visit after he got back to work. It was a good talk--you know the kind--doctor-patient chit-chat. Turns out I needed a return visit some while later. At that second appointment, we got to talking again. Because I had, I said, "I was thinking about you before coming in today. I was thinking about gifts." He got very quiet. "You were given a gift. A Fearsome Gift--the gift of paying attention." I have never been given a gift like that--not yet. I like to think I don't need one like that--that I am sufficiently present in the moment--but I know that is wishful thinking. Whatever comes, it will be what I was meant to receive--not what I deserve, but what I must.
When I was a kid, I wish someone had told me to Pay Attention. Remember This. So I didn't, and as a result have few active memories from that time to guide, cherish, or support me in my adulthood. I don't think it ever occurred to me that I would grow up someday. But in the arc of an emerging life, just living it, casually or exuberantly, seems to have served me well. Somehow, some way, locked in a heart-memory they are there--all of them, making me who I am. Even so, especially so, now I try and Pay Attention.
What gift are you waiting for? What burden, what Fearsome Gift, have you been given already and struggle with, often daily, often life-long? Rumi, in his poem Guest House, reminds us ". . .invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide. . ."
Pay attention. Right Now.
See you in church.
Lifespan Religious Educator