31 Days of . . . Paying Attention


Almost a year ago, I was invited to bring the morning devotions at a retreat for retired pastors and their spouses. When the schedule for that retreat arrived in my inbox about three months ago, I knew immediately what I needed to do. We were gifted with great teaching, excellent workshop opportunities, great meals to eat together, even a concert from a grand male quartet. What I did not see was any deliberate space for quietness, for solitude, for prayer.

So rather than give a mini-sermon immediately following breakfast those two days, I chose to offer two different kinds of prayer experiences. I described each briefly and then gave out printed guidance sheets and sent everyone off to find a quiet space for twenty minutes before our morning teaching session. The first day’s assignment was to pay attention —  to take a walk or find a bench somewhere and look, really look, at something (or things) nearby. I invited them to take some slow time to offer deeper-than-usual attention to something round about them and then to breathe out sighs of gratitude, maybe write about what they saw or draw a picture of it. Or take a photo.

I so enjoyed doing this myself that I vowed to do some deliberate attention-paying going forward. I invite you to go along with me this month as I, once again, join the invitation to write a post every day in October on a single topic. Most of these will be short, all of them will feature at least one photo. But then you knew that, didn’t you? For me, photography is a primary means of entering into both prayer and gratitude — which are so often the same thing.

Let’s pay attention together, shall we? Leave me a brief comment and tell me what YOU’ve been paying attention to as we move through this month together. Looking forward to this!

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  1. In September, I took up a challenge in IG to post to a day’s prompt. I amazed myself 🙂

    I like this call to the daily discipline of paying attention as the gardens quiet and the air grows cold.

    Here’s to the adventure!

  2. Oh, wow, Diane, what a great challenge! We all need to pay more attention to what is around us in the moment, and really look, don’t we?
    I won’t be writing a daily reflection during October (more power to you!), but I will continue to appreciate all the nuances in God’s great creation.

  3. I’m paying attention now to what might be last things… The way the vines grow on the old barn I like to stop and take photos of, the way the light slants on the field …

    I forgot about the 31-day challenge. This would be a perfect month to get reacquainted with my blog. Maybe… Or not…

  4. Margie Bicknell says

    I have notices the leaves changing on the maple trees. In one type, only half the leaves are going red and orange and yellow. The other side of the tree is still green. I have wondered if that side gets less or more sun, and how can that be relevant, as the whole tree is deciduous? Glorious color is happening in the northwest.

    • Curious about that, too. Maybe it is to do with the amount of light and heat a particular side does or does not receive. It’s a wonderful process, whatever makes it happen!

  5. Joan Spjut says

    I was one of those blessed by your decision to provide quiet space at the retreat. A stop on the bridge looking toward the bed of a stream surrounded by redwoods gave me much to notice. The longer I stood there the more surprised I was at what I could discover. New green on the ends of some of the branches, a bit of standing water in the distance, the sounds of the morning….thank you for providing that space in our day.