Maitri Libellule
"Absolute attention is prayer."

~ Simone Weil ~

I am in a state of absolute attention when I write. This is one of the ways I pray. I become very silent. Not just not speaking, but quiet inside. When I write I hear that "still small voice." When you look at the cat above you know that she is in an absolute state of grace, and it made me wonder how often we pay attention to the world around us, rapt attention, awareness, and how often, sadly, we race through life to "get it all done" and the world whizzes by and we miss so much. When the world is a blur we cannot truly feel the energy that surrounds us. We are numb. We are not fully alive. We are not complete.

And so I slow down. I watch my pug Babs, a wee little elderly girl, blind and deaf, and yet so alive, waggle herself because she senses me coming. I pick her up and hold her in my arms like a baby. I look into her clouded eyes and I can feel vibrant energy in this tiny little girl. I kiss her nose, her forehead, her closed eyes when she blinks. Babs makes me more aware, alive. Her energy awakens my entire body. I live with many animals, and they live in the moment, they give everything around them absolute attention. They see things we cannot see, and hear things we cannot hear. Their eyes widen and their nose quivers and their body is perfectly still as they concentrate on the world around them, what is coming, what is going, what is near. They don't miss a thing.

I have been having an interesting experience. I have written about my carpet being ripped out. It was very old, and stained 7 years ago when I moved in, even though it had been cleaned. But as the animal numbers rose it became more difficult to keep it clean, and the elderly pugs would have accidents that I tried diligently to clean, but you can never fully clean what penetrates carpet, and so for health reasons, for the animals and I, the carpet was ripped out and I am walking on smooth, cold, concrete floors. And here's the thing...

Last night I sat in the silence and I noticed things I had never noticed before. With no carpet to soften and buffer the sounds around us, we miss an incredible amount of little happenings every single moment. In a room with no carpet, sound echoes. Everything is louder, the parrots shrieking, deafening, the dogs toenails clicking on the floor, a sound I'd never heard before, not even on the linoleum in the kitchen and bathrooms. There was a liveliness around me that was palpable in the stillness of the night, and it made me acutely aware of how much I miss, how much we miss in this carpeted world. It was a profound moment. I meditated and the world around me felt more alive. I was in a state of absolute attention, I was in a state of grace.

I find myself anxious to find out what will happen once the floor is painted. One would think that would make no difference, paint on concrete, but I bet it does. Even a couple of coats of paint will change the sound of a pin dropping, an amazing sound in this small space, that tink sound as it hits the floor echoes off the walls around me, and I listen in awe.

This morning, as I meditated, I sat staring at the tall grasses just outside my window and watched the subtle movements as the soft breeze made the grasses sway, very slowly, as there wasn't really a wind blowing through, just a gentle breeze. I was one with the grass. I found myself swaying with the inbreath and the outbreath in rhythm of the swaying grass. It was a revelation.

In this moment I am listening to the sound of my cockatoo's toes and beak grabbing the metal bars of her cage, climbing up the cage and over to her playstand. I tickled me. I laughed. She lives in pure joy. She lives in the moment and reminds me to do the same.

I hear Maya, my blue and gold macaw, cracking a sunflower seed in her beak. I would not have heard this sound in the room once wall to wall carpet. I would have missed a moment of life that is precious to me, and I am in awe of her psychic awareness. It never fails that no matter what she is doing, if I sit very still and stare at her, really feeling her, watching the way she moves, picks a piece of food up in her foot to eat, she will stop what she is doing and turn and look at me, staring back. For a moment our eyes are locked. She knows. She has such an acute sense of awareness she feels a shift in energy. I envy this. She doesn't miss a thing. Parrots are prey animals in the wild and have the ability to hear very clearly for long distances. Their very lives depend on it. I wonder if we would pay closer attention if we realized that our lives depended on being that aware, and the thing is, our lives do depend on it, we simply do not take the time to realize this. Hours, minutes, seconds pass at the speed of light, and then days, weeks, months, years. I wonder how much I have missed? I realize that the slower I go, the more time I have. Our very lives are extended by absolute attention, and that which we notice is a prayer.

I am going to move through this day as mindfully as possible. I am going to let the concrete floor teach me what it will, because I will be moving some time in the next year or so. I won't always have concrete floors. I will be an attentive student.

I feel the almost invisible tiny hairs on my face move slightly with a bit of breeze. Again, a revelation. A kind of joyful aliveness I hadn't noticed before.

I am going to treasure this day because I know I will not always remember. I trust in my practice of mindfulness, when I don't forget, when I'm not caught up in my own humanity. Much of my life now is spent seeking more and more of that absolute attention. I want to pray...

1 Response
  1. Judy Says:

    Sitting here in awe after reading your wonderful post...searching for the state of grace of which you speak. It is difficult in this (as you correctly stated) in this "carpeted world" we live in. Our attention is snapped away so often with everyday living and outside demands. I must concentrate more on breathing in, breathing out, calming myself enough to just listen and watch. Thank you, my dear friend, for opening my eyes and my mind.

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