How important it is to walk along, not in haste but slowly,
looking at everything and calling out
… Imagination is better than a sharp instrument.
To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.
(Mary Oliver, excerpt from “Yes! No!”)
Noticing the smallest of details can change our perspective. Our focus can wander unless directed, unless called back to now. How easy it is to miss things because we rush, because we imagine that we don’t have time to slow down.
Sometimes having a camera in hand is what helps me be intentional about looking at the world differently, soaking in its detailed colors and textures.
Sometimes prayer does the same thing for my heart.
Prayer usually doesn’t feel productive, you know? It feels silly at first, like I’m talking to myself, or like I’m trying to prove something.
But it’s the very intentionality of committing myself to it anyway that changes me. The transformative power of prayer is subtle and slow. It doesn’t burst in; it seeps in.
Prayer slows me down.
When I pray, I change my perspective, and I notice things — things there all along, just new to my eyes.
And I think that’s one of the most important reasons for taking time to pray: not necessarily because it changes the world, but because it necessarily changes us.
Our hearts are molded and softened by the very act of making space to stop and pay attention.
So friends, let your prayer slow you down! Let it reveal beauty in something small that would have been missed in haste, passed over in productivity. Let it offer perspective on your life, on the world, that surprises or challenges you.
And then come tell me what you see/learn/hear/smell/understand/desire/change/feel…
Want some more inspiration?
Check out Emily’s 10 ideas for making art in under an hour, or Ann’s recent post on really looking at the world, or my own suggestion for practicing attentive prayer.
A Note for plant nerds:
Twinberries and California Thistles are both native to the California coast. Queen Anne’s Lace (the lovely wild carrot plant) came from Europe, as the name implies. These days, though, it’s naturalized pretty much everywhere across North America. The root is edible — it really is a carrot — as are the flowers, but this plant looks dangerously similar to poison Hemlock, so be careful! Even though Twinberry plants are part of the Honeysuckle clan (whose berries are usually poisonous), these are technically edible. They’re just really bitter, so I hear. Thistles, however, have a lot going for them: they’re super useful and entirely edible (but spiky!)