Is it obesity? Is it the breakdown of values? The national deficit? Each of those hold their own terrifying statistics. But underneath the surface of all that, I wonder if there are larger issues at play. And one of them must be our ability to “pay “attention.”
Generations of marginal children have been diagnosed with “attention deficit disorder.” But it is likely that today you know or are somebody who suffers from the inability to stay focused. Kids shows are increasingly fast paced. Churches and advertisers (strange bedfellows on this point) are spending thousands and hundreds of thousands of dollars to capture our attention. And, our new technologies promise us the ability to cultivate realtionship with hundreds of friends all at once. We are struck with an attention deficit.
The real danger in attention deficit is loosing our abilities to see and love life. We spend hours with our kids but have no idea about their favorite things. And we begin to loose appreciation for flowers or the subtleties of human touch or the child like fascination with play. And perhaps you see these things as frivolities, dispensable and short of meaning. That may be true.
But, wise people seldom experience frivolities frivolously. These things all help train us to feel and link in with the movements of the universe. Christians call this the working of the Holy Spirit. Lack of attention in the spiritual life equates to impotency in the love life. We loose track of God’s subtle orchestration in our every day situations and of the larger things He uses to grab our attention. Sadly, most people blame their growing inability to feel God on God or the lack thereof. And when you make that turn, you start down the slippery slope believing that it is up to you to “make your life work” or worse “to make a name for yourself.” Underlying a host of our issues, I believe, is the loss of our ability to pay attention. It may be at the root of our whole dilemma… that is if you have noticed we have a problem in the first place.