Pastor’s Letter – August 27, 2017: Noticing the Little Things
The spectacle of the summer, the solar eclipse, has come and gone. There were people all over the neighborhood here standing outside looking at the sun with the special glasses. We had a pair of special glasses here at the parish so we could look at the sun. It was impressive to see as it became noticeably “less light” on a rather sunny day and it wasn’t cloud cover.
In a column by Danny Heitman he suggests that “as the media coverage of last week’s eclipse makes clear, popular culture conditions us to think of nature as a series of cinematic blockbusters: the Northern Lights, the 100-year comet, the once-in–a-lifetime chance to see the sun vanish in the middle of the day. But seeing nature as a kind of amusement arcade, worthy of note only when it dazzles, blinds us to the basic wonder of the land, sea and sky on any given day.”
In February 1979 the poet Annie Dillard witnessed in Yakima the same total eclipse I saw in the Tri-Cities. As it turns out the eclipse was not the only or most impressive vision of the day. Ms. Dillard noticed the surrounding landscape before and after her world would go dark. Beyond a hill Ms. Dillard spotted the Yakima Valley: “Through the valley wandered a thin, shining river, and from the river extended fine, frozen irrigation ditches. Distant blurred and blued the sight, so that the whole valley looked like a thinness of sediment at the bottom of the sky.”
In our fast paced, over-scheduled, noisy, media-hype saturated culture; I think we have to cultivate the practice of noticing what goes on around us. It’s the practice of wonder, of being open to the subtle and unexpected around us. It’s a matter of reading not only the headlines of creation but also the fine print: a summer tomato, a winter’s first snow, the breeze on the trees, a billowing cloud in a Michelangelo sky. Beauty and grace are performed around us daily whether we are paying attention or not.
Silence and stillness have always been sacred in our spiritual tradition. It is in silence and stillness we notice, notice the little things that go on around us. There in silence and stillness we notice the mystery, the hand of God, as the Psalmist says: “Be still and know that I am God.”