Weekly Devotions for 2/27

The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
    the God of glory thunders,
    the Lord, over mighty waters. – Psalm 29:3 (NRSVUE)

I heard an owl in my backyard the other day. It is always exciting to hear that hooting coming from the woods. It was also amusing because earlier that day Wendolyn had said to me, “I wonder if we have any owls around our house.” I had replied that I heard one out back our very first week in the house, so I knew they were around, but I had not heard any since. To have us both hear one that very night was amazing. Was it simply a coincidence, was God somehow involved? Or could it be that we were both ready to notice something that had always been there?

We could never know what allowed us to hear the owl that night. The different possible explanations need not be mutually exclusive, though. There may have been plenty of other times that owls have been hooting in our yard and we were simply too preoccupied with something else to notice. Talking about it may well have primed our attention to notice. That can be true AND it also be true that God is involved in moving us to be attuned to the vibrancy of life around us. 

Dorothee Solle, a 20th century German Lutheran feminist theologian, has suggested that in our age of hyperactivity the greatest prayer we can have is the act of truly paying attention. To focus intently on the world around us and the wonder of it is truly an act of prayer in that it is a work of being moved to awareness of God’s presence. To notice the owl is to have our attention focused beyond ourselves, which is truly and act of prayer. If that was true 25 years ago when she wrote that, before high speed internet and smart phones, how much more true is it today, when we live with a barrage of distractions? How much more of God’s presence might we notice were we to regularly focus our attention on the world around us?