Pay Attention


June 7
Underneath the picture on last Sunday’s bulletin at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church (above) was a familiar quote by Mary Oliver. “To live in this world you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.”

It was an appropriate quote for the day since it was Mark Ramsey’s last Sunday. Many of us are having difficulty letting him go to another church for GCPC is stronger now because of his leadership. When I first began attending in 2004, I noticed everything was so perfect and organized. It played right into my own issues of perfectionism and for this reason; it often was a tense place for me.   Over the years, this has changed which is a good thing since I’m trying so hard to get out of being so perfectionistic.

On his last Sunday, Kristy and Mark did one of their dialogue sermons that I love. They reminded us “we need to be able – like Jesus – to discover awe every day, in ordinary things, by paying attention.” This hit me because sometimes I like many other brain injury survivors, pay attention to what I cannot do. This keeps us from being awed by the world around us and by what is still possible which is a lot! (Even if often, it doesn’t feel like that.)

In the sermon, Kristy told a story about a gruff, retired member who’s “heart was deep, and his patience – incredibly thin.” He often grumbled about nothing getting done quickly and how the church was ineffectual. He suggested he be put in charge and then things would change.

One day, he had a car accident and incurred severe injuries. He came back to church as quickly as he could with “the same gruff attitude. Almost.” Apparently, something happened after that accident that changed him. “His gruff became more jovial. His view of the church more gracious.” When asked to serve on the Session that spring, he turned it down. He wanted to just keep working with the kids at the tutoring center. Kristy said, “What he once desperately wanted – to exercise power and authority – he found he didn’t need.”

I couldn’t help but think of myself. I recently let go of a leadership role as well as lessen other responsibilities that weren’t feeding my soul. As a result, I have time to do things that I love such as work outside in the yard. Several years ago, I decided to get rid of all the grass in our small front yard and replace it with plants. For the past two years, I haven’t been able to work outside due to my right hand difficulties so the weeds have overtaken it. Plus we had work done on our water pipes so much of the ground had to be dug up. As a result, many of the plants died so I’m starting somewhat with a clean slate.

I spent the morning outside working and it was fun. It occurred to me, if I hadn’t decided to lessen some responsibilities that were not energizing; I would not have time to do this work. I’m trying not to use my right hand whenever possible so as not to injure it further and as a result, I work very slowly. Plus, I’m a slow worker anyway so it’s going to take a long time to get it done.

I know I need to do things to give back to my community and serve God directly but for now, this is okay. I will continue to “let go” and “pay attention” to where God is leading me. That’s all any of us can do.

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