All too often, it seems, we take the world and our role in it all too casually. We wake with a yawn and stumble through our mornings, gulping coffee and rushing to work or elsewhere and paying little to no attention to what’s happening around us.
We may be re-energized by a brisk walk or a exhilarated by a bike ride, but we also require the quiet introspection that comes from solitude, reflection or prayer, from placing ourselves before the world like an open lens and allowing ourselves to be imprinted by it all, like photographic plates or film, by what the world is showing us.
It’s appropriate to gasp in exhileration when the world explodes in beauty before you. It’s right and just to fall on your knees and acknowledge that the Creator of everything likes to show off a little every night and paint the sky for our enjoyment.
It’s so easy to go through life not astonished because we don’t look and listen for these sideways glances into the mind and heart of God. They are there, ever present, like their creator, but it’s up to us to look, see, note and name them.
Whether I have been healed by God through the power of prayer or through the natural reactions of my God-gifted body, I am – for now anyway – healed. Whatever the outcome, I have been healed, for I am at peace. So for me the question remains the one posed at the top of this reflection by the great New England naturalist poet Mary Oliver, as it is should for everyone, regardless of health or healing: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
The truth is, there’s just no way to see everything, which is why I find it so easy and rewarding to walk these same paths over and over. For it is never the same experience twice. The camera helps me to see and remember (and to share with others what I have seen), but mostly it has taught me to slow down, to focus, to pay attention to movement and color and light. More than anything, to light.
The older I get, the more I think that is exactly my work and my call — to stand still and learn to be astonished a little more often. For our lives and our work rushes by us and whirls around us at dizzying speeds, and when we don’t stop to pay attention and be mindful the world around us never comes fully into focus.