This week high winds played among cartwheeling leaves, creating mini-whirlwinds on the street. I watched with fascination, but it was brr-ry cold. So the old winter wind pushed me indoors and straight to a cheery hearth. Time to sip something hot and dream and plan for the days ahead. In our household we are naming this year as the year for deep attention. A deliberate attempt to counter our distracted thoughts and restless fingers flying over phone screens and keyboards to text and surf the internet.
Standing at the office window to watch birds in my back yard is a good, museful, slow-down activity. So I slip away from the fire for a few minutes to watch: a gently brown-brushed cardinal eyeing the feeder from a branch above and then diving down to perch and peck a few seeds and dart away. Juncos with rain-cloud gray backs and snowy breasts are hopping stiff-legged through the leaves. Soft-eyed doves too move through sunlight and shadow looking for scattered seeds. And most amazing of all, the head of a woodpecker with a brilliant red Mohawk is a blur as he pounds away at the trunk of a mulberry tree.
Like those lively birds in search of seeds, my thoughts and prayers search for true food, purpose, joy, for 2018. What was good in 2017, what went wrong? In my winter cocoon I pray for fresh motivation and deep attention to what really matters to me.
It will be a Goliath-sized task to focus deeply, to rivet my attention because it’s going to be our year to move to the country at long last, to down-size our household ( a massive endeavor), and begin our permaculture farming experiment while building and developing our little eco-village of 5 families, living and working alongside one another. We will also be building a cabin to experiment with our new building system.
Whew, a lot going on! What to do when, priorities, how to not get into a tizzy of stress and chaos.
Learning to stand still and lean on God, listening for His voice in this wilderness that is our culture, that’s part of the plan for deep attention. So I will scrap 45 searches on Google while juggling 50 to-do’s on the job and home front. I will give deep attention instead to a few goals and pour my heart and energy into accomplishing them with love. Goals that I asked God to shape with me. Not on my own for this.
Then to live loved by God just where I am so that I can in turn love others just where they are. With deep attention.
And I am already feeling new levels of joy, creativity, and serenity as I’ve undertaken goals for this year. My daughter and I are on a 30 day sprint, maybe not marathon yet, to write more and push away steadfastly from the shore of frantic activities in social media. She’s given up Facebook for the month, a brave aspiration. I’m disciplining my racing thoughts and restless, multi-tasking hands to pause and bask in gratitude, a way to find love and give it.
Hopefully we will move to our land—to improve and heal impoverished soil, and let it heal us too. We will grow food and cook together some. We will train others in a simple lifestyle of following God where He leads rather than stressing out over our orphan-minded survival strategies.
For the moment, winter kindly hosts us. We find our seeds just as the trusting birds do. We get ready to plant 2018. What are you planning for 2018? What will you plant?