day 6…being is seeing

The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light…

Jesus, the gospel of St. Matthew

I have a pretty sedentary day to day: listening, thinking, reading, praying, writing, driving, attending another meeting. Unlike my ancient ancestors on the Serengeti, none of that activity tends to involve moving very far or very fast.

When I became an assistant minister nearly 20 years ago, I had to move to a church with a pretty leafy post code. The minister there asked me if I had noticed anything different since arriving. Yes, I said, I see people running but nobody is chasing them.

One of the things I’m taking up over lent is walking Oscar for the best part of an hour every day (He hasn’t had to chase his dinner for a while either). The discipline of caring for the body that from iris to finger print is uniquely mine. Because it’s easy to presume I’m not a part of everything. It’s easy to live as if my observation is separate from what is before me, and worst still, what’s before me is there to be consumed.

So alongside the physical discipline I’m trying to bring a discipline of mind – being present to the finches, the clouds pushed by the same wind on my face, the snow flakes, the exuberant joy Oscar feels as he runs and runs. That’s not so easy. Very quickly I forget to be present to anything other than whatever thoughts happen in my head. Not following them, not analyzing a problem, or anticipating one – just being present – observing – not as a kind of consumption – but as a witness.

As if my noticing becomes a witness to and a meeting with this unique tree, rabbit, turn of light on the grass. The joy of simply being a part of creation, part of what’s physically there. That kind of being holds out a healthy, life giving curiosity, like the lamb that saw us approach, from behind the fence, and with it’s cautious mother near, moved closer to see something it had never seen before.

The poet Gerald Manley Hopkins is right, the world is charged with the glory of God. It’s in the ordinary world, when I wake up to being a fellow witness to what is there, that I come to know, “there lives the dearest freshness deep down things.”

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