Focus so easily fractures.
At day’s end, near midnight, I’m reading The Attentive Life when it seems like the chair beneath me … shifts.
I shrug, only to drop the book at the next eerie movement—a sinking, sickish feeling, like taking a dip in the road too fast.
Then … nothing.
Another lurch, followed by shudders. It feels like an alpine chairlift revving away from the platform. Electricity zings in my shinbones, gooses my spine.
What on earth?
As to what happens next, let me say this, in itself, is already a pressing question.
Dreamer graduated from Cardiac Rehab, so numerous appointments no longer dictate our time.
A girl gets used to doing things a certain way.
Interrupted focus is unsettling. Like feeling your chair inexplicably move underneath you, as if a far-sighted burglar inadvertently rammed your basement door with his getaway van.
Perhaps I should check our foundation?
Which brings me to a hard story: Some of you know Dreamer and I have weathered a major spiritual disconnect.
For reasons I won’t go into, a decade ago change ambushed us. Our journey of shared faith and ministry ceased, an ongoing, incalculable ache.
Change demanded compromises and radical re-definitions: roles, work, finances, decision-making, schedules, recreation, even togetherness. Not unlike retirement. Moving. Losing a loved one.
In the process of groping our way forward, we’ve immersed ourselves in glorious scenery. Dreamer works summer stints at National Parks. He’ll hone his interpretive skills this fall at Yellowstone.
An undercurrent of sadness lingers.
So this line from The Attentive Life arrests me:
“Poets, writers, artists, and naturalists all help us to understand what it means to ‘attend’ and teach us that we can think of attentiveness in many ways.”
Naturalist/artist? That’s my guy.
The author has my attention. And it feels like I’ve been tossed into a blender—the crushed ice setting. Thoughts churn.
Sudden insight shivers me timbers.
For 3 decades Dreamer and I led worship together. We created beautiful settings that helped people focus on God. That was our work. Our joy.
Love adapts, holds fast.
Now I see we’re still doing the same work— together and solo—albeit with differing goals and outcomes. Dreamer weighs in on each blog post; I support his wilderness jaunts.
We coax others to focus, to be more attentive spiritually, recreationally, ecologically.
I can focus on what’s lost, or new ground gained. Hello revelation.
Certain Papua New Guinea tribes have no word for “hello.” People say: “You are here.”
The rejoinder? “Yes, I am.”
Poet Pádraig Ó Tuama suggests this is a good place to begin prayer.
Or any worthwhile enterprise.
Ambushes can help us pay attention. Like when, at day’s end, near midnight, the floor seems to swell, then recede beneath a chair, as if it’s perched on the ocean.
Later, I learn a 5.8 magnitude earthquake was shaking Lincoln, Montana. I felt the aftermath.
Aftershocks register down in the bones even as understanding still reverberates, deep in the soul.
Maybe there’s no such thing as perfect focus; just “Here I am.”
How do you maintain focus when things shift?
You can read more about our journey in my book, Where the Sky Opens.8