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On Noticing

Today I am thinking about the word “notice,” as in “to become aware of something” or “to take notice” (Merriam-Webster).

Searching the term quickly in the New Testament, I find variations of the word to mean:

  • Consider; contemplate; observe fully; behold; consider; discover; perceive
  • See; look at; behold; look; perceive; visit; behold; look (upon)
  • See; observe; to be a spectator; discern; experience; acknowledge; behold; consider; look on; perceive
  • Hold fast; fix attention on; hold upon; retain; detain; pay attention to; give (take) heed unto; hold forth; mark; stay

I’m seeing common themes like seeing, observing, perceiving…

Thinking on these things and mulling over some additional words like “experience,” “consider,” “fix attention on,” and “pay attention to,” brings me to the conclusion that noticing requires stopping.

Seeing is one thing—we see a lot of things; for instance, right now I see the words on the screen and, out of the corner of my eye, a bouquet of sunflowers. The noticing is in the pause: the observing, the perceiving.

What, in my day, do I come across that captures my attention?

What is it that I notice about it?

Is it a color? A sound? A smell?

What if you can’t sense it so tangibly?

I find, too often, that I don’t pause long enough to identify what’s going on inside of me. My body may be hollering at me, but I power through: I must get this next thing done. I don’t have time to feel this thing. I can’t bear the thought of feeling it. Before long, I begin to ignore my body—the shallow breaths, the racing heartbeat. I don’t notice that I don’t feel well until it’s too late. Problems get worse (spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally), and then I’m knocked flat on my back wondering what happened.

Noticing your surroundings and noticing what’s going on inside go hand-in-hand.

How often do you pause during your day to pay attention to the new bloom of a surprise poppy in your garden? How often do you sit on your front porch, noticing a hummingbird flitting back and forth from the feeder to its home?

When you pause, do you feel it?

Do you feel yourself breathing deeper, your heart rate slowing, your muscles relaxing?

What do you notice about yourself and where your heart is?

Can you bear to experience it?

If not, why?

Noticing requires being curious. Can you be curious about your feelings just like you are curious about the kittens soon-to-be-born from the stray cat?

What do your feelings tell you about yourself?

What do they tell you about God?

What I love about noticing is that you don’t have to resolve anything. Just pay attention. Feel the feeling, breathe in the scent freshly cut grass, express delight with your favorite pet.

Just take time out of your day—maybe even start with a few minutes after every meal—to just notice. Your surroundings and yourself. I’d love to hear about what you notice today.

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