paying attention

On the night I am remembering, [my father] told me to pull the pale blue blanket off my bed and bring it to the deck. The air was sweet and cool. The sky bristled with stars. After my father had folded the blanket in half, he lay down on it with his hands folded behind his head. …. If he explained what we were looking for, I do not remember….All I remember is lying there beside him looking into a sky I had never really looked into before, or at least never for so long….

More and more stars fell as the night deepened. Some of them made clean arcs across the sky, while others disappeared before they had gone halfway….

I learned reverence from my father. For him, it had nothing to do with religion and very little to do with God. I think it may have had something to do with his having been a soldier, since the exercise of reverence generally includes knowing your rank in the overall scheme of things. From him I learned by example that reverence was the proper attitude of a small and curious human being in a vast and fascinating world of experience. This world included people and places as well as things. Full appreciation of it required frequent adventures, grand projects, honed skills, and feats of daring. Above all, it required close attention to the way things worked, including one’s own participation in their working or not working.

– Barbara Brown Taylor, An Altar in the World

[thanks to Agnes for this passage which will be the first of a few from Taylor]

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