~ awake in this moment, at home in the world ~

The Gift of Attention

March 28, 2019

What we need, and what we love, what consoles us and what redeems us, 
is here each moment, already within us. It waits for us to recognize its presence. 
We have only to give ourselves up to it, and our one life, and all life, 
welcomes us into its arms.

~ John Tarrant

It all begins with awareness. Every spiritual journey begins with learning to pay attention to what is happening within and around us. Every attempt to understand our place and purpose in the world begins with seeing clearly the truth of the moment right here and right now.

We are given the gift of a life - the gift of the world - and left to decide how best to care for it.  How do we cherish these few days we have been given? How do we nurture this gift of love and light coursing through us, bringing it into fullest bloom? How do we position our own small lives in relationship with the greater flow of life?

The answers to such questions lay scattered about us like jewels. We need only pay attention well enough to see them, to lean in close to them, to let them speak their mysteries to us. We need only turn toward life, with eyes wide open and heart awake.

Attention is the secret ingredient of a life well lived. It is prayer, it is amazement, it is blessing, it is love. It unfailingly slips us toward both happiness and peace. It tethers us to those wonders of the world that can only be lived in this moment, in this skin, in this breath. And it awakens us to the shininess that glimmers in everyone and everything.

We could begin by lifting our gaze and looking around. Listen. Taste. Smell. Soak up the colors and shapes that wrap themselves around your life. Feel into your breath, your belly, your fingers and your toes. Sense the deeper pulse of life as it shines through you. Wake up to this moment and be truly present for your life.

How miraculous, this vast and tender world we share. How wondrous, this small body we have been given, this opportunity to swim for a time in the great sea of mystery and light. How inspiring, this opportunity to extend ourselves and our love out into the darkest cosmos. How blessed we are to partake for a short while in the beauties and even the sorrows of the world.

Let's recommit to keeping our minds and our eyes trained on the beautiful now. Let's relax into this breath and unearth the perfection nestled within this moment. Let's let go of the past and let go of the future, choosing instead to stand in the light of this one wholehearted breath. Let's invite this beautiful moment be our refuge and our perfect teacher. May it teach us the secrets of unshakable happiness and ease.

And let's share this gift of attention with others. Let's look one another in the eyes, at last. Let's be here, truly, for one another. Let's offer each other the gift of clear sight and wholehearted presence. Let's remember that our patient attention is the deepest expression of love we can offer one another.

Surely and gradually, our ever-deepening awareness will welcome us back to our lives. It will reveal to us that everything we can possibly need is here, now, around and within us. Our amazed attention will teach us, finally and forever, how to fall in love with the whole wide world.

This essay was originally offered as part of Claudia's 
online immersion Gift of the World.