The Advent Writings, Day 3: Annotare

Annotare – note/jot down, notice, become aware; mark, annotate; record, state; designate
(Source: William Whitaker’s Words)
Ever notice how when you become aware of one thing, that you notice that thing just about everywhere you look? When we got Gracie, our Mercury Sable…
Yes? I see a hand in the back…
Yes, we do tend to name our vehicles. I have names for some of my instruments, my trike is called Big Blue, and we have way, way too many stuffies from Build-A-Bear, all of which have their own name.
I sleep with a snowy owl called Bubo. I’m not ashamed of that.
Wait – yes I am. Forget you heard that.
Anyway, when we got Gracie, I suddenly noticed that all vehicles became Mercury Sables, most of them were the same burgundy color as ours, and oddly enough, most of them had vanity plates that bore various adaptations of the name Gracie.
I might have been making that last part up.
When our attention gets drawn to something, we tend to see it all over the place. That’s why, during my tenure as WCSG’s Music Director, I would regularly get calls complaining about the fact that we played this one song about a gazillion times every day. Your attention is drawn to something, so you notice it every time. Hours may have passed between sightings, but all you remember is “there it is again!”
(I call it the Olson Theory of Attention and Time Displacement. No one else does. Wait, Vicki does. But just her.)
Today, what’s capturing my attention is the thought of mindfulness – of being awake and aware as the days draw closer to Christmas. And as I do, I see more and more places where God continues to draw attention to Himself.
I see His hand in a blissfully sunny day today, in the clear blue sky, and the gold and brown reminders of the passing of fall.
I see His hand when I encounter an old friend, who I’ve connected with on Facebook but haven’t seen in years. A quick hug, a little re-connection, and a little more brightness to the day.
I see His hand when I’m listening to the Daily Audio Bible, when I’ve gotten about five days behind and am listening to one that I should have heard two or three days ago, and yet that one is speaking to where I am, right here, right now on this day.
As my attention is drawn more and more to Him, I notice His loving hand moving more and more. As I think about my commitment to write each day leading up to Christmas, I notice more and more of the things I’ve written about, and more and more of the things that He will lead me to write about.
I think it’s supposed to be this way every day, don’t you?
“Well Cal,” I hear you mutter (and with good reason, I might add…), “I don’t have the luxury of sitting around at Biggby, pondering the truths of the universe and then pontificating upon them for all the world’s edification. My world moves pretty fast, the load on my shoulders is pretty heavy, and sometimes I’m just glad to make it through the day, let alone making it through while staying mindful and aware.”
Indeed. I hear you, I affirm you, and I understand. Living life in a state of open eyes and open mind is a tough discipline, one that I’m just beginning to get a glimpse of. The world assaults the senses, it screams for attention, it’s hard to ignore, and more and more it’s nigh unto impossible to escape from.
I’ll admit – it chases me everywhere in the form of my trusty little iPad, my own window to distraction and oblivion anywhere I find WiFi. Even in bed, late at night when I should be sleeping. *sigh* On the side of balance, that selfsame iPad is what I’m writing on right now – it’s like the whole “out of the same mouth comes blessings and curses” thing. Except it doesn’t have a mouth, unless I’m watching YouTube.
And if I’m watching a mouth on YouTube, I really REALLY need to shut it off and go to sleep. Or go for a trike ride, depending on time of day and situation. Never both at the same time.
Um, sorry… back to the actual point…
The amazing thing, the hopeful thing is this: the more we notice something, the more something gets on our radar, the more we see it, then the more we make note of it, and the further it gets into our consciousness. We start connecting them together, we scrunch up the time between sightings, and all of a sudden we see God’s presence in most everything. We notice more and more, and the mundane gets pushed further and further back.
With eyes and minds wide open, a life of expecting to see God’s hand at work every day is the result. How cool is that?
“So, big boy, do YOU live that way, every day, every hour, every minute, eyes and mind open, looking for God?”
*sigh* No I don’t, nor do I claim to. And that too is hopeful – I don’t trust someone who never admits that there are times when they don’t get it right. Perfect people make me nervous… except for Mary Poppins or Nanny McPhee. (well, Mary Poppins mostly. Nanny McPhee does make me a little nervous, even though the Nanny McPhee movies are two of my very favorite movies…)
Holy cow – my keyboard must be set on RabbitTrailusMaximus or something today…
But I can honestly say that slowly, slowly, I’m getting my head around living with eyes and heart and mind wide open – so slowly, in fact, that a snail following me says, “could you pick it up a little, Speed Racer?”
When I remember to start my day mindfully turning my attention to Him, when I notice the stuff that would blind and deafen me, when I take my thoughts away from me and my little world, and turn them to Him and His all-encompassing vision, then I take another step forward. Behavior becomes habit. Habit becomes life. And God remains central, right where He should be.
And so in this time of preparation, in this Advent season, it’s great to use all the visual Christmas reminders to begin an attention shift that needs to be a lifelong pursuit. I don’t have it down yet, nowhere near close. But I’ve begun.
And that’s a good place to start. “A VERY good place to start.” (Ok – I crossed Julie Andrews movies there… it’s all good. Very good.)
Annotare – notice; become aware…
“My dear friends, this is now the second time I’ve written to you, both letters reminders to hold your minds in a state of undistracted attention.”
2 Peter 3:1 (The Message)

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