Dec. 16: Attention! Attention!

Dec. 16: Second Saturday of Advent

Once again, O LORD of hosts, look down from heaven, and see;/ Take care of this vine, and protect what your right hand has planted (Ps 80:15-16).

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My husband, whose thumb is verdant beyond compare, likes to say that if you want to kill a plant, all you have to do is to put it under my supervision. He has a point (unfortunately). From indoor orchids to all manner of growing things in our small garden, I simply do not pay enough attention to ensure that our plants survive, let alone thrive. It falls to my faithful helpmate to water, fertilize, weed, mulch and generally care for our various flora.

Living things thrive when attention is paid—and that includes us. As creatures of God, inspirited by his love and placed where he wishes us to grow, we flourish when we strive truly to see, hear and know one another. This means paying attention—both to God and to those whose lives are linked with ours—in the way my husband cares for our plants: by attending to them regularly and thoughtfully.

How often, really, do we give our full attention to God (in prayer) or others (in presence)? This is not merely a seasonal problem, although with just over a week until Christmas it may be acute right now. It is a year-round challenge for us to put aside the phone, shut down the computer, sign out of Facebook or Snapchat, and devote ourselves fully and wholeheartedly to another person.

As 20th-century philosopher and mystic Simone Weil observed, “Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” In this season of giving, the most precious gift we can give to God and to others is our attention and love.

Prayer: O God of all the earth and every living creature, Strengthen my devotion to my relationships with You and with others, even in the midst of a busy and distracted life. Amen.

For today’s readings, click here.

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Anne Danielson
8 months ago

Betsy, Thank you for taking the time to write these beautiful reflections which are a true gift.

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