Meditation Monday – Pay Attention, Find Joy, Be Discerning

by Christine Sine
Prayers for 2024.001

by Christine Sine

What does it mean to pay attention to your life? I am contemplating that question as I sit in my quiet place listening to the birds sing and watching the mountains glow in the early morning light.  Paying attention is about taking notice of ourselves, God, our neighbours, the earth on which we live and the circumstances in which we find ourselves.

Many of you know that last week  was quite an unexpected and challenging one and so all the plans I had for the week seemed to dissolve in accidents, illness and unexpected happenings. Part of what it taught me is the importance of going with the flow and not allowing myself to be overwhelmed by the unexpected and uncomfortable. I realize more and more that frustration at a challenging day is usually because I want to control what happens and don’t like it when my plans go haywire. As Nouwen reminds us, “The gift of discernment is the ability to hear and see from God’s perspective and to offer that wisdom from above to others.

Here is a poem that came out of my pondering as I looked at the mountains so grand and beautiful outside my window.
Expect the unexpected .001
One question I am learning to ask more frequently is “what might God be doing here and how can I be a part of it?” Getting glimpses of how God’s purposes are being worked out in us and the circumstances around us, changes our perspective on life. We are no longer concerned about how we can manipulate the day, or control its outcomes, but can relax as we are only concerned about how God is speaking, and how we are able to draw close in every moment of the day.
Paying attention in this way means a willingness to let go and relax into what is rather than struggling with what might have been.

Pay Attention to your body

Getting older makes us more aware of our bodies, our aches and pains, the signals that tell us to slow down.  We need to take notice of how this impacts what we can expect of ourselves each day, not resenting these changes but welcoming the new revelations of God that they bring. What are the signals that say you are going too fast or too slow? What are the promptings that make you aware you are not getting enough exercise or eating the right food and neglecting your health? Hurting my hand encouraged me to reflect on these kinds of questions again. It was a gentle reminder of my need to listen more closely to my body.

I keep a record of my daily steps and exercise. I also count my calories. I realize with horror that I am far more sedentary than I thought. Sitting for long periods is not good for me – for my heart, my muscles or my bones – and I need to intentionally change my behaviour.

Pay Attention to your Soul

I try to pay attention to my soul and the emotions that simmer beneath the surface, but it isn’t always easy, in the busy priority of work and hospitality. There are currents of joy, pain, tension, quiet longings and frantic desires. They all need to be paid attention to. How self aware am I? What gives me joy? What depresses me? What breaks my heart? What are the implications for my life, my relationship to others and to God? Even more importantly what do I do about it?

Tend Your Spirit

How do we tend our spirits? This week my personal space is very messy, and I know that often reflects the state of my spirit. Mess means a chaotic spirit, easily distracted by bits and pieces of work projects I spread around me. Computer open first thing in the morning means social media has taken priority over God.

How close do I feel to God today? What have I done to nourish that closeness? How have I pushed God away. Creating a space for Godtime requires a deliberate act of placing my computer under my desk and stacking my work into a neat pile that does not distract me.

Take Notice of God’s World

Celtic Christians believed that creation was translucent and the glory of God shone through. A raindrop, a ripe strawberry, even a broken branch reflect something of who God is. My love of creation grows every year, and the beauty and the wonder of God’s world fills me with awe. Unfortunately, especially in the winter it is easy to let go of this focus. I still need to take time to look and listen and touch, to allow the glory of God reflected in creation to seep into my being. (I will talk more about this next week).

Pay Attention to the People In Your Path.

All people are God’s people, made in God’s image to reflect who God is. Even the most broken people (and we are all broken people) can draw us closer to the God we love. Yet we easily listen to some and dismiss others. We pay attention to those we like or whose opinions we agree with and ignore or demonize others who think, look or worship differently. We sit in fellowship with those who make us comfortable and distance ourselves from those who make us uncomfortable.

Who do you listen to? Who helps you relax? Who do you ignore? Who will God speak through in unexpected and surprising ways?

These are questions I  grapple with more and more. The more intentionally I take time and create space for these questions to pay attention, the more grateful I become for all the ordinary, mundane aspects of life, and the ordinary people who impact my life. Drawing again from Noun’s wisdom:

Together, God’s people ground me in the reality and wholeness of Christ and his church, holding me firm and safe in God’s living embrace. God speaks regularly to us through people who talk to us about the things of God. Certain people become living signs that point us to God. Whether in life of in memory, the people God puts in our lives can help guide us and show us the way. (Henri Nouwen, Discernment: Reading the Signs of Daily Life, 81)

What is Your Response?

Watch the video below. What encourages you to pay attention to God’s world, to your inner self and to God’s people around you?  What makes you dance to the music of God’s world and the song of God’s voice?



Join Christine Sine January 27th, 2023 10 am – 12 pm PT for a virtual retreat, Spiritual Discernment: Finding Direction in a Confusing World, as she facilitates an exploration of practices that enable us to become “all ears” and listen in all circumstances to the voice of God. This session will be full of helpful input, discussion and creativity. Come join us and learn to listen more deeply to the voice of God.

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