Not often enough.
I wish I paid better attention to all that’s going on around me. I’m sorry to say that I just don’t seem to do that often enough. I wonder what would change in me and in ways that I’m in the world, if I did. Pay attention. Plug-in. To people and what's around me. To words and what's being said...I wonder.
This past week while writing a card to a daughter of one of our patients who had recently died, I wrote about her mother’s “compassion” for others. And I stopped. There was the word “compass” living right there at the very beginning of the word. I’d never really put those two images together in the same place at the same time. As I continued writing the card, I invited the daughter to use some of those compassionate memories of her mother as a life-compass. For the next little bit anyway, I invited her to set her own life-compass in a way that followed her mother’s path in interacting with folks. And then invited her to pay attention (here I am inviting her to do something I was just waking up to myself, but you know how that goes…) to what happens as she moved through these first months following her mother’s death.
When awake and paying attention, it amazing how many gifts there are to receive. So with that one I started stopping (now there’s another one…) and paying attention to the words I was using and what was being said in and under and around them.
Restaurant. I’ve said over and over again how restful and restorative it is for me most visits at Evans Fine Foods Restaurant. It’s almost as though the word itself sets me up for what’s to come. And how nice that is.
Harmony on the other hand is a pickle. Singing in choirs have been a blessed time of life-giving harmonies. And yet, there right at the beginning of the word is a disconnect: harmony. How is that possible? What does that mean? And what are we to make of that? How can that place of blending and listening out for the other, bring harm? I’m unclear about that one. (Then I start to wonder what my angel-friend, Frances would say about it. A Latin teacher, she'd be the one to check-in with about this very thing...but that's not humanly possible these days. I'll have to live with patience about that...)
So I invite you to dive in and explore. What can you learn about words and language by seeing what’s in them and what words make up words? You might discover some things you’ve been missing or be reminded of things you’ve always known. They might be a compass to bring you back to where you’ve been needing to be all along.
Working in Family Experience at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Lesley is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. A Candler School of Theology graduate, Lesley has just published her second book, Grief and the Psalms: Companioning the Moon for 29 Days (available on this website). She and her partner, Linda Ellis are raising their two sons, Brogan and Sam in Decatur, GA.