Learning to Pay Attention

Last night, I spent some time around a dinner table with some of my most dear friends from around Atlanta. These friends are engaged in community work around the city–some with refugees in Clarkston, some with homeless folks downtown, some with children and youth in South Atlanta, and others with food co-ops here in our neighborhood. In the midst of our conversation and fellowship, between the cheap french fries and debates over community development strategy, someone asked, “What are you learning?”.

You know, I’ve served in many internships, worked many hours for various community development organizations, spent plenty of hours in classes thinking and talking about ministry and work and service. However, in working with the earth, I believe I am learning by a different way. I am learning to pay attention.

The slow, steady work of putting my hands in the ground, the mystery of what happens underneath the soil, the curious surprise of discovering a bright red tomato on the vine…these things are conditioning me, forming me into a particular type of person. I’m learning to see the bits of divinity dripping from these small gifts, wonderful and awesome in their complexity. I believe Richard Rohr when he says that God is constantly trying to give away parts of God’s self–we just fail to develop the patience to learn how to look for it.

Thanks be to God for these gifts.





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