"I feel the earth move under my feet..." 4 Principles for Paying Attention

August 27, 2013. Did you feel it?
The earth shifted a little on its axis today, not because it’s Mom’s birthday, though she had a way of making the earth move. And not because it always does anyway--predictably, thank God.

Staying Awake
Today it shifted ever so slightly away from summer and toward fall the way a crayon is more green-blue than blue-green. It stepped across the line between summer being more summerish to summer being more fallish. I stepped out my front door and inhaled it.
Deeply. Grapes fragrance the air, the pears are harvested and hops will follow shortly. Sometimes it just smells like skunk but not today. The morning sun was just ramping up, but the rising temperature harbored a hint of cool. An almost imperceptible breeze whispered its secret or it may have gone undetected.

Now and Not Yet
I almost missed August this year—which is alarming because it’s my favorite month. Just one out of twelve. You’d think I could pay attention. I’m not sure how it happened. I suppose it’s the eternal battle I wage against my propensity to live in the not yet instead of the now. Like when my father-in-law used to tell his kids who, like all kids on a long trip, ask “Are we there yet?” with each passing milepost:
“Almost…just over the next hill.”
Of course the next hill, like tomorrow, never exactly comes. Somehow we get there anyway, like I got through August almost without noticing.

I’m thinking more these days about the fall—September, October, November—of life, about the second half of the trip. I have help. Last night just before dropping off to sleep, my husband remarked, “Do you know we’re closer to the end of our lives now than we are to the beginning? I confess, I found it less than comforting. I had noticed, actually, since I’m in the throes of menopause and already question on a daily basis just how much closer I am. Plus both my parents have passed on. His, on the other hand, are both in their 80’s and just beginning to experience the salient effects of their mortality. He gets to watch.

When I was little and sitting in church, if I was doing something distracting, Mom would snap her fingers so I would snap out of it. My kids say I inherited that gene. Maybe today’s shift was Mom snapping her fingers so I would remember to live now. At the least, she must have had something to do with it.

I wonder if heaven will be like August, or like long trips to Texas; if we’ll all get there and see that we were complaining a lot and not really paying much attention?

What have you missed or nearly missed?
What helps you to pay attention?
How can you welcome these helps into your

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