To see a world in a Grain of Sand
And Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.
A huge frog and I,
staring at each other
neither of us moves.
God is closer that we think.
There is no path to God
that is not first
God’s path to us.
This is an unusual moment in our world and in our lives. What began as a news story about an illness on the other side of the world is now our reality right here. And while we all want this difficulty to pass quickly, we’re aware that our lives are disrupted by something that we feel little control over. We’re washing our hands constantly, standing 6 feet from one another at the grocery store, avoiding crowds, and helping each other out, but here in the US, we have a little further to go before we’re in the clear. We’ll get there, but for now, normal life has been disrupted, and we’re feeling the hardship.
For some of us, we’re unable to do what we want and need to do, and that can be frustrating. For some of us, we have even more to do, and that can be exhausting. For some of us, we’re figuring out new ways to do things, and that can be disorienting. And for many of us, all three are true. This moment is unusual, frustrating, exhausting, and disorienting.
But I’ve been reminded of something through this experience. In the midst of relearning how to do my job and keeping my kids safe and navigating the difficulties of life in less-than-ideal ways, I’ve been taking time on a more regular basis to stop and simply pay attention to good things. It’s been a helpful way to center my heart on what’s truly essential.
In the middle of the unusual, frustrating, exhausting, and disorienting moments, I’ve been spending a little more intentional time on my patio and paying attention to that small part of the world—the wind chimes, leaves falling from the live oak, rain on the metal roof, birds singing, neighbors passing by, the scent of sweet olive. Here’s a 30-second moment in the backyard:
Whether you’re worried or weary, bored or beaten, frustrated or just fine, stop for a moment.
Pay attention to something good and delightful right where you are.
What do you see? What do you notice? Look closely. Look deeply. What’s right there that makes you smile? What in that one moment gives you delight?
I’m not talking about escaping responsibilities and spending months on a mountain top. Just stop for 1 minute of the 1,440 minutes in the day. Or just pay careful and undivided attention to something simple and beautiful for 30 seconds. Sure, longer would be nice, but you can see eternity in just 30 seconds if that’s all the time you have. And chances are you probably have more time than that.
Think about the people you love. Think about the people who love you. Notice the neighbors out walking and give them a smile. Pay attention to the little things—small delights: a cup of coffee, the wind blowing, people helping people, the dog just being a dog, the birds just being birds, the kids just being kids. Pay particular attention to anything that reminds you of goodness, anything that gives you some pleasure and delight. Think about these things with gratitude.
Yes, the world has its share of unsavory circumstances–unusual, frustrating, exhausting, and disorienting at times. And yes, we can never ignore suffering and our responsibility to do good in the midst of it. But we can’t help heal the suffering without first becoming filled by the Goodness we want to become. Get to know the Goodness.
This doesn’t fix problems, but it does give a little energy, insight, and perspective to face them.