I remember waking up early, just as the sun was rising above the ocean’s horizon. I drove the twenty minutes to Princeville along the Northshore and winding coast of Haena. “The end of the road,” as the locals call it, just recently reopened after the devastation of a hurricane that hit Kauai the year before.
The drive took me on a journey that felt sacred and all my senses were telling me to pay attention. I saw God in the humble green fields speckled with cattle and in the majesty of the drip castle mountains in the background that reached high enough to touch the clouds above and bent low enough to touch the sandy shores.
The cooler morning air blew in through my car window, refreshing my soul, reminding me that God’s mercies are truly new every morning. As I paid attention to the world around me, I began to pay attention to the world within me.
Right there in the driver’s seat, I gently sat with my thoughts as I revisited my frustration from the night before. My frustration made me aware of my misplaced hope and my fleshly desire to grasp at control.
At that moment the sound of the ocean reached my car window, and the waves rolling in and out reminded me to sit and listen to ebb and flow of my soul, without judgment or condemnation. I handed my honest thoughts and my heartfelt emotions over to God through admission and confession. I admitted my fear, confessed the sin and shame entangling me, and asked for wisdom to reconcile what I knew to be true with the truth of how I was feeling.
This simple practice of paying attention allowed me to move forward with my friend Jesus, instead of staying stuck. To live in connection with God, myself, and the people I love the most.
The struggle to “love thy neighbor” is most often tested in my home, with my husband and my kids, when I’m tired, fearful, discouraged, off my game, or just want to be left alone.Tish Harrison Warren “The Liturgy of the Ordinary”
We don’t need the ocean to be sitting outside our window to remind us of the living water living inside of us. We can pay attention to the world around us and the world within us, right where we are.
We can take a moment to look out our car windows when we take our kids to school or when we rise before the sun does on our commute to work.
Right now, I’m paying attention to the leaves changing color and falling to the ground, reminding me to let go of the things that need letting go of, to release my control of outcomes, relationships, and the unknown future. Knowing God can handle it all, my offering is my surrender.
Paying attention is a practice we can do anywhere at any time. The only things we need are pause, awareness, and reflection. This applies to the scenery surrounding us, the people in front of us, and the Spirit within us. This practice is not meant to bring about overwhelm but rather attention to detail, to the small things and the physical signs telling us to lean in and listen.
In Shannan Martin’s book “The Ministry of Ordinary Places,” she quotes Barbara Brown Taylor writing these words, “It is not necessary to take on the whole world at first. Just take the three square feet of earth on which you are sitting, paying close attention to everything that lives within that small estate.”
This simple practice will help you live more connected to God, more connected to yourself, and more connected to others. Allowing you move from stuck to surrender.
When we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us into deeper connection through the practice of paying attention, we invite Jesus to sit with our souls in the unseen places. With abundant grace, He gently leads us towards the true gospel transformation that our souls so desperately long for.
And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.2 Peter 1:19
*To go back and read the first post in this series, click here.