Reflecting on Notice….

Prim Hook National Wildlife Refuge by Timmy Miller
Nature is a tonic to my soul. Almost twenty five years ago, we moved to Warrenton, VA, hoping to escape the urban sprawl of Fairfax County. I frequently commuted to work through Manassas Battlefield, a beautiful park that preserves nature in commemoration of a Civil War battle. I figured I would have something to look at if I got stuck in traffic. So I was drawn to this photo of Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge, taken by my friend Timothy on his way to work. Timothy turned aside to take notice, to take in the scene, rather than rushing into his day. As for me, I can’t say I always took the time. In the early days the traffic on my commute would often come to a standstill. I must admit I was rarely as present to my surroundings as I would have hoped. On the way into work, I would run my to-do list over in my head. On the way home, I would worry about picking up my daughter from daycare on time. Yet every so often, there was a glimpse of beauty that penetrated the fog of my daily grind. Usually I had turned off the engine after sitting too long, then lowered the window to get in a bit of fresh air. I would hear a bird, or spot a deer, or notice the redbud has just begun to bloom. In short, I would turn and take notice of what had been waiting for me all along, day in, day out. My heart would ache with awe as the wonder and beauty of nature stripped away the busy-ness of my life. Yes, I know ‘take notice’ is an old fashioned way of speaking, an old fashioned way of being. We can’t be bothered with focusing on one thing at a time. We definitely can’t be bothered with letting down our defenses long enough to allow creation to melt our hearts and seep into our souls. Notice is something we ‘give’ rather than ‘take’. Notice is how we quit a job, once we have stopped being treated as an individual, as someone of worth, as truly unique. We give notice when it is time to move on, rather than simply fade into the sea of sameness and allow our souls to shrink a bit more each day. What if we each took just few minutes each day to ’take notice’? What if we stilled our minds long enough to listen to the beat of our hearts? What if we traced each breath, each gift of life, as it passed through our bodies? It’s time to take notice, here and now. It’s time to turn aside and soak in the everyday miracles rather than rushing on into another busy day. It’s time to take notice before you find this precious life giving you notice and ebbing away one day at a time. Text by Connie Chintall©2016, photo entitled ‘Morning Light’ by Timothy Miller©2016, All Rights Reserved.

Reflecting on Distraction….

The leaves are beginning to turn and the ground is losing its green hue, even in the midst of so much rain. The air has an earthy smell, of damp soil and decay. Yet there is so much life if you look for it. So I was drawn to this photo of a young deer by my friend Alexz. The deer is headed in one direction as it gazes back in another direction. The meadow grass is almost as tall as its back, blending in with the deer’s coloring. Without a careful look, it would be easy to miss this deer. How often are we heading in one direction while looking in another? Or thinking about everything except what we are doing right now? We leave home without something we badly need during the day. There can be times when we are so distracted we leave behind something essential, like a passport when departing on an overseas trip. We can become curt and impatient with others, through no fault of their own. We are simply frustrated that we allowed ourselves to become distracted. Psalm 42 begins with the image of a deer, saying our souls yearn for the Lord in the same way the deer longs for cool, clear water. The psalmist is downcast, he longs for the Lord because he has lost his sense of purpose, his true north. He fondly recalls days spent in the House of the Lord, full of joy and contentment. He calls out to God, asking for direction, putting his hope in the Lord. Take time today to focus on what is truly important to you. Don’t get ahead of yourself, just complete what you need to do right now. Write down what needs to be done later, and let go of it until then. Sanctify your work, making all you do a form of prayer, allowing the cool, clear water of God to flow through you and direct you. And even when you aren’t looking where you’re going, you know God is. Photo by Alexz Jade

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