The eternal within the everyday


To be well engaged in work takes discipline. I need a routine, a way to concentrate and tune out distractions. Work at its best, the attention and focus, is a kind of prayer. Mary Oliver says it well:

“I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, . . .”

This attention is a crossing-over from multitasking non-presence into an eternal place of connection. A place where I feel well employed, using all my senses, including imagination. The ears of my heart tune in and listen with devotion.

In this place, I don’t worry about time and to-do lists. I am not concerned about whether the work is good, original or profound. I tend to think in pictures and the boundary between images and words softens, becomes malleable.

Here is another threshold, then, between ordinary time and the eternal. It’s a way of peering beneath surfaces. Every mundane thing — object, event or person — conceals the eternal, which hums along below it all. I imagine myself, through attention, pictures and words, lifting that thinnest of veils to peek at the depths below. It’s a dimension that stretches beyond the center of the earth. It’s not bound by space-time and is common to everything.

Sometimes I imagine it as a river deep in an underground cavern, running beneath our everyday experiences and connecting them all through its hidden passages.

These glimpses are fleeting rewards for pausing, for extending an invitation through attention. They serve no ultimate purpose, other than to remind me that all is not as it seems. Others may be moved to write mathematical equations to prove such dimensions exist, or to give detailed instructions for how to get there.

And that’s the beauty of this world in all its complexity and diversity. No one person, no one equation, painting, symphony or poem can capture it in its entirety, though some are moved to try. I am here, in this world, experiencing and reacting to it. I am moved by its intricacies and injustices, its beauty and brutality, its mysteries and marvels.

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