Written by Rebecca Chancellor Sicks
Here we are in the season of Lent, a holy time in which we are invited in the name of Christ to practice discipleship on a deeper level, to engage in the work of spiritual disciplines for the six weeks leading up to Easter. This is a time of self-examination and penitence, prayer and fasting, works of love and reading and meditating on the Word of God.
I have been pondering and practicing a “new” spiritual discipline: Awareness. Or at least that’s what I call it. In our busy and sometimes chaotic world, how aware are we—of ourselves, of those around us and of God and God’s presence? Another way of describing this is to call it the discipline of paying attention. And to do that, we have to slow down. We have to pause, look, listen and/or feel.
Consider your state of awareness—how aware are you of your whole being:
your physical body, your aches and pains, the miraculous way your body works and breathes and experiences life?
your emotional state, your feelings, your attitudes, your desires?
your spiritual health, your connection to the Triune God, others and all of creation?
your mental state, what occupies your mind, your curiosity for knowledge?
How aware are you of what is happening around you:
with family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, strangers—all who share space with you?
in your neighborhood: the people, the places, the needs?
in our church, our community, our leaders, our structures, our policies?
in the cycles of life in nature--the grass, trees, flowers, animals, rocks, water, the sun, clouds, stars and moon?
How aware are you of God’s presence in the midst of it all? In every little thing you do, where is God? How is God speaking to you? What is God saying?
One of my fundamental beliefs is that God is always with us. The challenge can be discovering just how close the Creator is, just how present Jesus is, just how powerful the Holy Spirit is. Sometimes it takes great effort to be aware, especially in those areas we often overlook. It’s not necessarily difficult, but we have to stop something else and redirect our time and attention.
This list is long—I don’t mean for this to be yet another to-do list in your life. I do mean to ask you to reflect: In what place is God calling you to pay attention? In what way is God calling you to be aware? Maybe this is a season for you to ponder something new, to be in tune with a part of yourself or the world around you that you have often ignored. Maybe God is calling to you from a new or different place.
I don’t know how God is calling you. But I do believe that God is calling you. I am praying for you and I hope you will pay attention.
Grace & Peace,
Rebecca Chancellor Sicks is the associate pastor for congregational life. at First Presbyterian Church of Dallas. She has previously served congregations in Austin, Texas, Portland, Oregon, and Salina, Kansas. Rebecca is a graduate of Oklahoma State University and Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. She and her husband James are fairly new parents to one child.