31 Days of Paying Attention — Day Seventeen


We are exceptionally D R Y here in California. At this end of a five year drought, one of the worst on record, everything looks and feels like tinder. Our drive north last month, usually one of the most beautiful stretches of road in the world, was marked by exceptionally hazy weather, making visibility difficult. The thick air was the result of wind-driven smoke from the wildfires about 30 miles to the west of us, over on Highway 1. For most of the way north, we could barely see the lovely, low foothills to our east.

And then we came around a bend and found this loveliness. Yes, that ripe golden color is evidence of the dryness I’m talking about. Yes, I hope and pray it will green up this winter and spring. BUT. Right here, right now, it made me catch my breath. I am sure that row of very green oak trees helped that gasp along, but the hills and the roadside alone — seen without the dreary filter of smoke and haze — were beauty enough.

Cleaning up our filters is a big part of paying attention, isn’t it? Releasing negative thoughts, buried anger, fatigue — all of the very human stuff that sometimes gets in the way of our really seeing things clearly. 

“Lift the smoke, Lord — the stubborn embers of my frustration, judgment, fear and grief. Help me to see the beauty right in front of me, right now, right here.”


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  1. Oh, yes! When the clouds clear and the fog lifts, our appreciation for the light and clarity of vision is intensified. Our spirits soar. What a wonderful metaphor for the spiritual uplift available to us as we shine our attention on all the positive beauty around us (Philippians 4:8). In the physical realm, we have no control over foggy, overcast weather; in the spiritual realm we can take our thoughts captive (2 Cor. 10:5). So why I sometimes get caught in a funk…well, shame on me!

    • No shame necessary, Nancy – just let it go. God knows ‘our frame,’ and gently calls us back to beauty, even when we’re in a funk!

  2. Margie Bicknell says

    Up here, in Sammamish, all the deciduous trees are changing color, and it’s wonderful. The sky clouds over and dulls the brilliant red and yellow and orange leaves on the trees. But when the clouds part, and the sun streaks down from the sky in spears of light, the colors are illumined in riotous array. What an artist is our God, to know the earth will bring glory to God each fall in every color imaginable. And how can we not shout from the roof tops “My Lord and my God!”