To be fully present in each moment opens up a whole new glorious universe.
An advantage of having a scientist father was learning the power of observation. Whether studying microörganisms through a microscope, birds in the bush, critters in a tidepool, or frogs in a pond, he taught me to slow down, focus, concentrate, and carefully observe.
My wife will walk through a forest or along a beach and see things I would have missed – the texture of a small rock, the intricacies of a tiny flower.
When I was in clinical pastoral education (post-seminary training to be a healthcare chaplain), we were directed to first observe. What did the patient’s room look like? Lighting? Noises? Medical equipment? Others present? What was the patient’s demeaner? Posture? When I was a homecare chaplain for hospice, I could tell a lot about a family by carefully observing them in their surroundings.
In spiritual direction and pastoral counseling, even on a video platform, I look at expressions, postures, movements, what’s in the background, what sounds surround the person with whom I am talking, tone of voice, and so on.
My true self – the authentic me God created – is often hidden beneath layers of masks and shadow images. Only by careful observation can I come, over time, to know who I really am.
Careful observation is the key to scripture as well. What’s happening in this story? What do I imagine those in it are seeing, hearing, feeling, thinking? How would I feel, what would I think, what would I do, if I were part of this story? Because, in reality, I am a part of it.
Nature, others, scripture – all part of God’s story. God invites me to join. Slow down. Take a deep breath. Observe what you see, hear, feel, taste, smell, sense, imagine.