Pay Attention

“To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.”   ~  Mary Oliver, “Yes! No!”

Joe and I attended the same highschool in Jacksonville, Texas . Over fifty years later, we talk about how grateful we continue to be for good teachers who taught us well, expected much, and by their example and instruction gave us more than knowing how to construct sentences, write paragraphs, solve equations, and appreciate art,  history,  geography, music and sports.  Lois Boles, Frances Childress, James Everett, Mr. Mosely, Signora Mullinix,  Jerry Robinson, Bill Ingram spring to mind quickly.  But a spry lady we called Miss Kate (Kate Stadler) who taught typing, used an expression so often in her classes that we still use it.   “Pay Attention!”  Miss Kate demanded attention to detail with expected results in skill and accuracy.  I am pretty sure she didn’t intend application beyond keyboard skills or think that as years went on, paying attention would be a skill that would become something to live by.  I am certain that I did not understand the phrase as more than a requirement until much later.  In its simplicity, there lies a risk of underrating its scope and impact. But it has become a compelling imperative, one that helps me see the intersection of faith and creation and art. No surprise, my favorite Mary Oliver quotation expresses this well.

“Instructions for living a life:

Pay attention…

Be astonished…

Tell about it!”              ~  Mary Oliver, “Sometimes”

2 thoughts on “Pay Attention

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