It Starts With Attention

It starts with attention.  What am I paying attention to?  And by extension, what am I not paying attention to?

This morning I stood in our messy kitchen, eyeing the breakfast crumbs and the lunch fixings left out from the kids’ lunch packing frenzy.  My husband stood before me, our girls at his heels, briefcase strapped across his chest, coffee mug in hand.  “Bye,” he said, leaning in for a quick goodbye kiss, as he always does, even when my mind is elsewhere – as it was at that moment. (God bless him, he’s a saint.)  I didn’t much notice the kiss or the kids’ smiles as they skipped to the car and off to camp.  I was thinking about the dishes on the counter and the specter of last week’s to-do list that I never quite finished.  He was gone in a flash, girls in tow, and I barely noticed.  I was already loading the dishwasher, planning out my workday. 

And so I sent my husband off to work on the morning of our 12th wedding anniversary.  My ambitious attention was on the never-ending tasks before me, and my heart followed its lead – tossing aside as irrelevant this opportunity for connection, this momentary escape into the best part of life.

The word “Sabbath” means “stop” or “cease.”  It comes from the fourth of the Ten Commandments, where God set aside one whole day for humans to stop.  To refrain from labor and rest.  To give their full attention to the good stuff of life.  Sabbath was meant to be a gift, a chance to remember what really matters – Divine connection, belonging, and love. 

While setting aside a whole day for rest and enjoyment is a work in progress in my life, I’m wondering if life is full of invitations to enjoy a brief, sometimes transcendent, Sabbath stop.

What if turning my attention away from the stress of dishes to the warmth of my husband’s embrace is to step into a moment of Sabbath rest?  What if turning my attention away from my to-do list and toward my children’s giddy excitement over the day is a way to incorporate rhythms of Sabbath delight into my daily life?  

What if the secret to finding restful rhythms in this nonstop world is to pay attention to what you give your attention to?  What if the secret is to be ever ready to turn your attention to what – and who – matters most?

That’s where I’ll begin this August Reset journey.  On our anniversary date tonight, I’m going to look for those momentary glimpses into Sabbath, those opportunities to rest and delight in the gift of marriage, of love that sticks with me even when my mind is elsewhere. 

I can’t help but wonder – how would my day have been different if I had embraced those brief Sabbath moments in the kitchen this morning?  Would I have been less stressed starting my day?  Would I have found other opportunities to embrace a brief Sabbath pause ?  I’m not sure, but tomorrow I hope to find out.

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