Mary Oliver on ‘Attention’

 

Something is wrong, I know it, if I don’t keep my attention on eternity.

Attention is the beginning of devotion.

— Mary Oliver, Upstream

I love Mary Oliver’s poetry and now am coming to love her prose as I read her book of essays Upstream.  In these two sentences from the first chapter, she seems to focus on at least part of the antidote for the problem posed by the quote from Thomas Merton last week.

  • I think what we pay attention to is what seems most important to us at any given moment.  What do we find ourselves paying attention to and what does that tell us about the things we value most?
  • How do we cope with keeping ourselves focused? How do we avoid constant distraction?
  • Are we as perceptive as Mary Oliver, knowing something is wrong when our attention strays from eternity?

Photo by dw

 

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