Paying Attention

sunset over fieldLast night I was talking to a wonderful fellow who is currently depressed. He was talking about all the stuff he does wrong as depressed people do. “I’m down so help me make it worse” was the unintended theme of his conversation.

He asked me what I did when I was down. “Well,” I said, “every day no matter how I am feeling, I take a phrase from the 23rd Psalm and repeat it to myself, then pay attention to what I become aware of. Like, ‘Lord, where have you led me in green pastures?’ And I look for where God has restored my soul.”

As I paused to allow God to gift me with something I suddenly saw the sun setting and the grass all around reaching out to distant hills. I suggested he do the same, then when he was done I said, “Look at the sky to the west.”

He broke into a broad grin and said, “How marvelous!” He then noticed the large field and said, “Wow, I wonder if it would be OK for me to bring my RC plane over and fly it here. This would be just perfect.” By now he was excited and grinning and looking forward to something. He knew the owners of the field so it would be easy to ask. If he did it right he could also give a gift to the neighborhood kids including  the grown up ones who like stuff like RC planes.

I then said, “Thank God for the gift of this evening, this moment and this good possibility, write it down where you can find it again and do the good thing you just became aware of. And did you notice that God just restored your soul just like the promise says? How can you be such a looser if God loves you so?”

You see, paying attention, using meditation to be aware of our internal life and the world around us and the possibilities today balances our experience. Seeing the moment allows up to act on positive opportunities as well as see new solutions for old, negative ones. God’s gift is balance and new possibilities to strengthen what is right rather than feed what is wrong. God helps us rejoice now and when we are struggling remember what is right.  So simple. So grand.