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  • Writer's pictureAram Mitchell

pause and notice

Our Board of Directors met last night. Four of us were together in person at the Renewal in the Wilderness office and four of us dialed in remotely from other places on the continent. At the start of the meeting Lisa asked us to look around and share something about the place we were inhabiting at that moment.

From a nook in her home, Lisa aimed her camera out the window showing the blossoms of spring in Midcoast Maine. Peter, next to me on the couch in the office, took note of the book shelves full of guides, maps, commentary, theology, philosophy, essays, nature writing, and spiritual memoirs. Zack pointed out the office window to where the sun was setting west of Portland, and the possibility of, maybe on a clear day, being able to see Mt. Washington in the distance. Tom held his youngest son in his arms at an Airbnb in Pennsylvania, a positive manifestation of the flexibility and commitment of volunteer Board members the world over! Dave showed us around his home office and pointed to the window in his apartment overlooking the newly budding treetops that cover pockets of Midtown Toronto. Greg showed us the fresh snowfall in his backyard in Boulder. And Liz pointed to the huge map of Maine on the wall at Renewal in the Wilderness, noting the magnitude of coastline that twists and turns up and down the eastern edge of our state.

This was a beautiful reminder for me of this simple practice: Pause and notice.

Or as Mary Oliver wrote: “Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it."

When we share our sense of place we weave together a web of assurance. If I am here where I am, and you are there where you are, and we are each committed to offering ourselves to this place and time: Then our collective attention might bloom into a shared commitment that might flower into a field of impact that might blanket the earth. Your personal commitment to the practice of presence becomes part of a healthy ecology of compassion.

When you pause and notice you bless the world.

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