Confession: Glenda said that, I didn't. At the time, I had no idea what she meant by it, but she insisted, and I wrote.
But I think it's a little clearer now.
I write this post at the end of a long day, so I'll tell you now that the threads I'm about to lay on the table won't connect in any obvious way, not till I braid them together.
Here's the first:
On Monday, wise Debbie suggested we "spend time away from writing and reading and being connected to social networking in order to feed that place where great stories originate."
In his nonfiction book, Nudge, Leonard Sweet suggests that every time Jesus says "Verily, verily" in The Gospels, he really is saying, "Pay attention."
In fact, Sweet goes on to say something worth cross-stitching into a tea towel:
"You are what you pay attention to ... In a world of inattentiveness, a world that goes largely unregarded, it is the special mission given to humans to bring the world to life. How do we save the world? How do we keep the world alive? Through loving attention. … by 'tending and tilling,' naming and cherishing the tiniest part of what God has created."
(I wish I could tell you more of what he says about paying attention, without pushing the fair-use laws into a breakdown.)
Before I pull in the third thread, let's twist these two together a bit:
My spiritual walk of the last few years has led me to reflect again and again how few things are about me. How much of life - real life, my own life - lies outside my skin. How life experiences that differ from mine might create an experience of life far different from my own. How people send signals to say things they have no words for - to anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear.
I have often been frustrated by my failure to write a third book - and I still mean to do that. But the moments in this past year I have managed to catch the view outside my skin have enthralled me enough to lessen the pain.
Here's the third thread: In case you haven't met her before, I'm going to introduce you to a woman named Vivian Maier, who paid attention. By design, she had no audience till after her death. The audience seemed to matter far less than the seeing.
She's a hero of mine. And while I'm glad that someone at last allowed me to be her audience, and I'm grateful that many wonderful authors have cared enough to publish their work, I want to remember that seeing comes first. I want to remember that the "verilies" of Jesus are his command to me to pay attention.