Paying Attention; a Reflection for Lent

by Hilary Horn

By Rodney Marsh

Jesus said Jesus then told the crowd and the disciples to come closer, and he said: If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself. You must take up your cross and follow me

Mary Oliver’s instructions for living a life:

Pay attention

Be astonished

Tell about it.

Jesus too had a three stage process for living a fulfilling life:

Forget about yourself

Love your neighbour

Follow me

If anyone is to learn to love their neighbour they must first learn to pay complete and compassionate attention to persons other than themselves. Unless we learn to give up our self-centeredness and pay attention to another we will never live a happy, fulfilling life (that’s what Jesus taught). “Paying attention” is not just necessary for love it is love. It is how Jesus loved God. Through pure attention, Jesus saw God, saw God in others and saw God in the world around. He alone could say, “I and the Father are One”. He showed us that when we see the image of God (the purity, goodness, divinity) in the other, we open ourselves to God’s love. Allowing God to love us is the way we love God, and this openness to love is the way to the joy of discovering our unique place in the world. We learn to be happy with who we are and who others are. The price we must pay for this happiness is giving up our ego-self as the centre of all things. When we pay this price and pay attention to God in our neighbour and in the world, we find our true ‘self’ in the love of God. This is the promise of Jesus. It is why Jesus also warned, If you want to save your life, you will destroy it and then promised, but if you give up your life …, you will save it. That giving up our life and the receiving of it back is the journey of Lent, from Ash Wednesday to Good Friday and then to Easter Day. It is a journey that begins now and continues so long as God is pleased to give us life.

 

Pay attention

Be astonished

Tell about it.

Forget about yourself

Love your neighbour

Follow me.

Jesus and Mary (Oliver)

 

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