Frames of Attention

Complaining. Well, not exactly. Lamenting, maybe, with a positive turn.

I began a recent conversation with my friend, my spiritual mentor, by telling her all the things that were crashing in on me.

I’m teaching a very challenging new course that is taking more time than I ever expected and I’m feeling more vulnerable than usual.

We’re going to be moving in a few months. We’ve been packing stuff that just sits around anyway, looking at houses online, and planning our trip next week to actually see some of those houses.

My husband doesn’t have a position in our new place…yet.

Our daughter is getting married in a few months and my opinions and guesses are required. Those suggestions are laden with wonderings and assumptions tucked beneath the surface.

Oh, and I have revisions to finish, an editorial review due this week, and I am being nominated for an award that requires a 10 page paper by Monday morning.


That’s what my friend said.

God help me with my blessings?

Teaching that class has been a great learning. Not only have I aquired new tools to infuse an online class with interaction and a personal presence,  I have a teaching partner. (We put our sections together in one online space.) I’m learning to lean on and work between our individual strengths to lighten both our loads.

We ARE moving. We will buy our own house again and enjoy beginnings that are both demanding and live giving. We’ve connected with a great realtor and lean into Divine providence—of that I am certain.

Yet… a powerful word. Given that I am certain that God is with us and going before us in creative collaboration with the gifts that Mitch has been given; the next job just isn’t completely visible…yet.

 All those professional tasks? I am blessed with gifts that are not perfect, with struggle that makes me learn more about the world, and myself, and opportunities to build community.

Yes, our daughter is getting married. More than that, she is creating a life with an extraordinary partner. God has handed me this opportunity to build our relationship, to support and uphold her.

  An old silent pond.           Into the pond a frog jumps.          Splash!          Silence again.

 Speaking about this well-known Japanese haiku, Frederick Buechner writes,

Basho, the poet, makes no comment on what he is describing…

He simply invites our attention…

In effect he is putting a frame around the moment, and what the frame does is enable us to see not just something about the moment but the moment itself in all its ineffable ordinariness and particularity…The frame sets it off from everything else that distracts us. It makes possible a second thought. That is the nature and purpose of frames. The frame does not change the moment, but it changes our way of perceiving the moment.


That’s what my friend did; she framed my lament with one astonishing word.

Take heed how you hear.


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