The Liturgy of Paying Attention

Nathan has taken to requiring me to sit with him in his room until he falls asleep.


I’m going to go ahead and blame this on the grace of my friend Lisa who being amazing as she is, would do this for Nathan so he would nap at church while I worked.  Now I would normally consider it a bother, and for a moment here and there I do.  However once I sit in the rocking chair and the room is quiet and dim, I receive it as a gift to slow down and go with the pace of summer.  Watching him peacefully doze off into dreamland, I begin to understand, this is as they say, only a season when the days can be long but the years go fast. 

When Jason was a baby, my friend Joy whose children were in high school and college at the time, encouraged me to stay with them when they had trouble sleeping.  Training them to sleep had it’s place, but she sort of gave me the permission I needed to lay with them and use the time to pray over them and be their source of comfort while they were still seeking it of me.  It took me each subsequent child to enjoy their sleeplessness more and more. Sometimes I think God gave me four for my own benefit, because I have no other choice at times but to slow down and allow them to go at their pace.

– – –

This morning I had breakfast with the best kind of old friends. The ones who know your mind and heart without you having to say much. They know where you’ve come from, they are aware of your wounds and what makes you who you are now.  But certain old friends are special because they don’t look at you like the person they knew twenty years ago, they constantly see who God is forming you to become.  Friends like these are a treasure.  It had been a long time since we’d seen each other so the hour went by swiftly because it doesn’t take but 30 seconds for us to cut deep into the matter of things.  We both left with hearts full, resolved to stay connected more often.

 – – –

It never stops amazing me how God brings people, things, and situations to you exactly how and when you need them. The book I’m reading, The Rest of God, calls this the liturgy of paying attention. Mark Buchanan says “the essence of a Sabbath heart: paying attention.  It is being fully present, wholly awake, in each moment.” It’s thinking clearly about God and freshly about time.  It’s being trained to think about the simplest things like oxygen and the warmth of sand grains under our feet to the interruptions of toddlers who don’t sleep and friends you meet for coffee who are able to pull out the weeds that have taken the deepest roots in your heart.

 – – –

In these weeks when I have more time for the “get tos” than the “to dos” I find myself struggling with staying in the moment and being attentive.  God certainly has a funny sense of humor given my one word for the year is “BE.”  Right?


Instead of simply being wholly awake and present, paying attention with a heart that is resting in the God of every moment, my struggle to find the right thing to do can actually cause me to make the wrong choice.

So for today, I think the right thing is to just sit in the rocking chair and watch Nathan fall asleep. Once I hear the sound of his breath so heavy from the sweetness of baby dreams, I realize, he won’t be going to college asking me to stay in his dorm room as he falls asleep.  What’s the worst that could happen? I won’t get a lot done. But maybe that’s the point of all this.

If you have kids, how do you handle the sleepless moments? 

How difficult or easy is it for you to pay attention to the simple things?

4 thoughts on “The Liturgy of Paying Attention

  1. Linda Rivas says:

    It hit me this June when my middle son Jessy was Graduating from Elementary school !! I sat in the chair and listen to him speak about the Future . As he was speaking I started thinking where have I been ? When did this happen ? I thought the future no we can’t be thinking about that already . You are only 12years old . I have been so busy with other things that have nothing to do withmy boys . For the past few years I have been so Concerned with making things better that I didn’t stop to think or ask them how they feel about it . After talking to my 14year old who is going to high school I started to cry and what he said really hit home . Mom you have to stop and enjoy the simple things because later on you will Realize they were the big things ! So this summer I am Slowing down and just taking every Moment because this is a Season that do want me to be there and then bam the Season will hit where they don’t want me to be there ! I mean don’t get me wrong I am Mom they love me and I will always be there but there will be that season where I am just not the cool mom to hang out with 🙁 !! On a brighter note Lovee and miss you !! Enjoy your summer dear friend and give Nathan a big hug from me !!

  2. Celeste Toomey says:

    The picture in mind of you rocking Nathan into his sweet slumber brought a smile to my face! I can recall rocking Michelle and Nicole to sleep and telling myself “enjoy this, remember this, it will be gone before you know it”. The laundry, dishes, dust balls, errands, emails, and other “to dos” will always be there, no matter the season. Michelle had many sleepless moments, and it would require that either Phil or I sit with her, rock her, pat her pack, lay with her (and I would almost always fall asleep before she did), in order for her to sleep. It didn’t last forever. Rest assured, they grow up, strong and independent, maybe more so, by giving them the comfort and security they need. The memories of raising my daughters are the time together, precious moments, conversations, laughter, and the order of my house or the items completed or remaining on the “to do list” are never part of the memory. Lifting you up in prayer to “Be” and enjoy these moments, Nathan does!

Speak Your Mind