Paying Attention: A Prayer with Photos

Grant that I may I have eyes to see you, Lord.
To see you in the light,
to see you in the dark.

To see you in the rainbow,
to see you in the clouds.
To see you in the new,
to see you in the worn and weary.
To see you in the blessed and blissful details,
to see you in the rougher edges.
To see you in the easy, graceful gifts,

to see you in the slogging, stultifying backwater.

To see you in the immensity of the universe,
to see you in the intensity of a single cell.
Grant that I may have a heart to hear you, Lord.
To hear you in the laughter of children,
to hear you in the slowing of age.
To hear you in the soft sighs of the sea,
to hear you in the harsh cries of the hawk.
To hear you when the joy breaks loose,

to hear you when the sobs don’t stop.
To hear you in a beating heart,
to hear you when the beating stops.
To hear you in the wonder of a well-fed child,
to hear you in the one who starves.
To hear you in the still, small voice,
to hear you in the silence 
of questions without answer.

Even there, O Lord.
Even there.
May I have eyes to see,
ears to hear,
and a tongue to tell
the glory of our God.


The photo of the ‘shoes’ near the end of this prayer is from eastern Europe – 
a WWII memorial sculpture commemorating Hungarian Jews 
who were lined up on the edge of the river, 
told to take off their shoes, and then shot to death.
This reflection was prompted by a post about photography and truth at Kelly Sauer’s blog today. She was pondering old versus new in her photographic style. That got me to thinking and praying about the contrasts in this life; that the light and the dark are often closely connected and reflective of one another; that God doesn’t abandon us when life looks dismal or terrifying. I need eyes and ears that look and SEE and hear and LISTEN for evidence of the Presence of God – wherever and whatever and whenever.
Sometime during the dark morning hours, I realized that this post was also triggered by the powerful WWII story shared by Ann Voskamp in yesterday’s blog post. 
Even in the most horrific of human-devised schemes,
God does not abandon us, God is not absent.
So thank you, Kelly. And thank you, Ann.
I’ll put this one with Michelle tonight, Jen tomorrow, and Ann on Wednesday and Duane and Jennifer, too.

Here is a legend for the photographs.
1. Reflections of stained glass on the stone walls of a cathedral in Cologne, Germany, 2009.
2. Sunlight breaking through the clouds as we flew from Florida home to LAX, May 2012
3. Cloud-covered moonlight over Puget Sound while staying on Whidbey Island, August 2007
4. Layers of color at sunset at the same place and time as photo #3
5. Our youngest granddaughter Lilly on the day she was born – 2/25/10
6. An oversized drawing entered in an art contest spotlighting the homeless population of Haarlem, The Netherlands, 2009
7. Our dining room pine buffet, loaded with my much-loved Fiestaware, taken on the day of my mom’s 90th birthday party, June 2011
8. Silhouetted ruins above the Rhine River, 2009
9. A tableau of bicycle against the stone wall of a local Catholic retreat center, Spring 2011
10. Garbage gathered at the edge of a marina in Miami FL, May 2012
11. Yosemite National Park, summer 2010
12. A birch leaf in our front yard, fall 2010
13. Sunlight through amber windows at the New Camoldolese (Benedictine) Hermitage Retreat Center, near Big Sur CA, December 2011
14. Our granddaughter Gracie, aged 2, laughing at the antics of her cousin Griffin, aged 2, on Whidbey Island, August 2007 (They’re six years old now, soon to turn 7)
15. My favorite centering prayer spot – the beat-up swing that hangs from an oak tree in our front yard, taken in the spring of 2010
16. Hendry’s Beach, Santa Barbara CA (officially known as Arroyo Burro State Beach), sunset, winter 2011
17. A bird of prey overhead – maybe a hawk, maybe an osprey, in British Columbia, summer 2007
18. Municipal flower garden, Nuremburg, Germany, 2009
19. The cross on our back fence that marks the place where my youngest brother’s ashes are buried. Taken in the spring of 2011.
20. Lilly, playing in her tent, Christmas 2011
21. Santa Barbara cemetery on a foggy morning, winter 2011
22. Lilly’s adorable bunny slippers, Christmas 2011
23. A skeletized leaf, picked up by my grandson while we were hiking in the Redwoods near Santa Cruz CA, summer 2011
24. Window angel spotted in a side street of Regensburg, Germany, 2009
25. War Memorial in honor of slain Jewish citizens, Budapest Hungary, 2009
26. Approaching Laity Lodge through the Frio River, the hill country of Texas, September 2011

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  1. Wonderful photos, as always, Diana, and so much to think about in this. Sometimes I look, but don’t see; I listen, but don’t hear. Unless I focus my intentions to produce results, my efforts can too often be as ineffective as those noisy bells and clanging cymbals!

  2. Powerful, Diana… combining these wonderful images and these seemingly opposed ideas – really all one, yes? Yes. To say it without saying it… a true gift. Thank you for sharing it!

  3. Yeah, that. That looking and not seeing, that listening and not hearing stuff. Yup. That’s a big part of the struggle in this earthly journey of ours. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  4. Thank you for reading it, Donna. And for RTing it, too. Appreciate your encouragement.

  5. Oh. Wow. One read/look is not enough. Not near. These last words, “to hear you in the silence of questions without answer.” I hear this well. And that last photo. No words needed. 🙂

  6. Thanks, Sandy, for leaving these words of encouragement. And that memorial? On a river tour through several European countries, each with their own kinds of memorials to the horrors of WWII, this one got to me at the deepest level. Especially the littlest shoes. There are no answers to some questions. Just trust that somehow, even this is not wasted.

  7. This is incredible! You need to use this in a group setting, like a guided meditation or something.

    P.S. I know that last image!

  8. Thanks, Megan. And I thought you might find that last pic familiar. You coming this year? (I hope, I hope, I hope!!)

  9. Wow, awesome pictures, awesome words. Inspires us to hear and smell and see God’s goodness everywhere:)

  10. Thanks for stopping by, Joy – one of my favorite names as our 2nd daughter shares it with you.

  11. Simplyphotographs says

    Ann’s shared story has impacted our family too!!!!  Beautifu prayer!

  12. Thanks so much for stopping by.

  13. Breathtaking, all of it. The words and images together, such a powerful prayer. I tried choosing my favorite line and favorite image, but there are too many. You are such an inspiration!

  14. Hey Cheryl – thanks so much for stopping by and leaving such kind words. It was an interesting project to find pictures that kind of matched the words that came to me when I sat down to write – I went through a whole lot of pictures to find these and still wish I’d a few others to pull from. Thanks for the encouragement.

  15. I loved that photo of the barren leaf, and then the photo of the dark windows with the shadows on the opposite wall. Oh, and the fiesta ware. Are those yours? Love the colors.

  16. Diana Trautwein says

    The fiestaware is mine – I actually ordered those colors and then planned an entire remodel around them. And I LOVE living with this palette. It just makes me happy. The leaf was picked up by one of my grandkids while we were hiking in the redwoods last summer and the light shadows are from the Camoldolese Benedictine Hermitage Retreat Center on Highway One near Big Sur, CA. Maybe I’ll add a picture legend at the end of this post…

  17. We have cobalt, rose and white – picked up for a song at a yard sale. Wish I could find the bright colors you have, and maybe yellow. 

    You can thank me for giving you more work. 🙂

  18. I actually struggled a little remembering a few of these – they’re as close to accurate as I can dredge from my ever-faltering memory, without resorting to photo books to fact-check. How nice to have found Fiesta ware at a yard sale! The bright green was a special order and more expensive that the other 3 colors, which were available through the factory and also at Macy’s.

  19. This is so lovely Diana, every bit of it. The photo of the shoes paired with your words is startling. And I’m wanting to see him in all those ways too.

  20. Thank you, Shelly. That is high praise indeed, coming from you.

  21. The bunny slippers – oh, they caught my heart one way – and the WWII warm memorial with the shoes – oh, they tore my heart another way. Your prayer is so beautiful, so deep and wide. Thank you for the blessing of it!

  22. You are so welcome – I loved those bunny slippers…and the feet that fill them, too. And the memorial was truly wrenching – probably the most moving of any we saw in Europe that summer. Thanks for stopping by!

  23. Just. Gorgeous. I am so moved by this post, Diana. What a gift you are. 

  24. Thank you, Jennifer. Right back at you.

  25. Beautiful. I stopped by from Jen’s. Grace to you in Jesus.

  26. Thanks for coming by and leaving an encouraging word!

  27. Because I am amateur photographer I took Jennifer up on her suggestion to visit here. Thank you for this post —

  28. Thanks for coming by, Becky – I am a very amateur photographer, believe me! How kind of Jennifer to suggest a visit.

  29. Joanne Norton says

    Loved it! The photos and the description. And “seeing” you on Whidbey Island was a blessing. Such a beautifully creative mix.

  30. Thank you, Joanne. Appreciate your kind encouragement.

  31. Oh, my. Such beauty here. You know how I love your photos, Diana. I am catching up with you, lady. Heading off to read about your time abroad. So excited to hear this story!

  32. Thank you, Laura – always SO blessed to see you here. And to read whatever you choose put out there at your place.