Lenten Practice: Holy Attention
Daily Act: Find reasons to be in awe. What amazes you throughout your day?
Weekly Prayer Phrase: Repeat this phrase slowly as you breathe deeply. You may choose to memorize this phrase and repeat it throughout your day.


by Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

“We must learn to acknowledge that the creation is full of mystery; we will never entirely understand it. We must abandon arrogance and stand in awe.” Wendell Berry, The Art of the Commonplace

A million miracles wait to greet us in every moment of the day.
The gift holy attention can bring is wider perspective.

I take a sip of my coffee and ponder its origins: Fair Trade Bolivian.

Where did these exact beans come from? I imagine the elements of the South American landscape that nurtured them to fullest life. I close my eyes and begin to see the soil that formed them, the sun that warmed them, the hands that picked them for a fair wage.

And whose hands, specifically? What woman or man, with a pulsing alive heart, with dreams and sorrows, with a family and community and story, reached out to harvest what I now enjoy? What was the thought in their mind at the exact moment they reached for these beans? What is their home like and what of their life? What events surrounded their day as they held in their work-worn hands the beans I ground fresh this morning which now join in awakening me to the holy of this day?

I revel at our connectedness.
I sip with new reverence.
I pray blessing upon the worker’s well-being who brought me this coffee this day, and the particular piece of earth that has been designated for this harvest.
O God- may my actions, small and large, honor the sacredness of the whole of creation.

Holy attention may also be the beginning of justice.

It is something so simple that can so easily be cast aside, rushed through on the way to more “important” things.

But take a moment to imagine this: I live in Ohio. There is still snow on the ground and I am drinking coffee from Bolivia.

A miracle!
Ancient enough ancestors would not believe it.

The day has barely begun and already I am in awe at an ordinary act, at how our lives are holy connected beyond what we can know. Already I can see how my choices create or diminish potential for God’s dream of peace to be made real.

I have not yet stepped outside to see the mystery of God in the face of my neighbors, or the possibility of spring waiting to break forth from barren branches, or to witness how the sun turns to gold everything within it’s reach.

If you look, really look, at whatever is before you and allow a sacred curiosity to emerge from your soul, you will find unceasing reasons to be in awe.

The Practice of Holy Attention: “Engaging in the practice of holy attention allows us to suspend our inner conversations and agendas and give reverent and receptive focus to a specific person or portion of God’s creation. Respecting another as an unrepeatable miracle whose life journey is unique and sacred brings awareness to and affirmation of God’s presence in all creation. We do this in the spirit of Christ who saw into the deep hearts of people and recognized their true identities as God’s beloved. During Lent, as we continue to empty ourselves (fasting) and evaluate our lives (examen), we begin to make space for awareness of where God is showing up in the world around us.” (2015 Guide for Lent, Community of Christ)

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