8:18

What to look and listen for

What to look and listen for

Let’s get down to details. 

I hope you’ve tried out an Awareness Walk for yourself.  If so, you may have easily picked up on interesting sights along the way.  But for many, it is a bit of a task to find the remarkable in the midst of the mundane.  Sort of like sifting for gold.

It’s not easy.  In fact, Solomon said it this way:

The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the LORD has made them both. (Prov. 20:12)

I take this to mean that though God creates us with eyes and ears, to truly see and hear is a gift from him, not to be taken lightly.  And worth the effort.

So let me give you some pointers for when you walk.

Look up, look down.  I take my cues from this verse of a great hymn:

Lord, how Thy wonders are displayed where ere I turn my eye,
If I survey the ground I tread or gaze upon the sky

The sky is such a dramatic canvas, it’s often quite noticeable.  But other fascinating things can be found with an upward gaze.  In forests, that’s often where the birds are.  And in towns, some of the most intricate details on buildings are at their tops.

But don’t miss the small stuff on the down-side.  Details that God can use to speak to us are literally under our feet.  Sure, a gaudy mushroom is bound to catch one’s eye.  But one of the most lasting lessons I received on one of my walks started with a small brass plaque set in the sidewalk on a street corner where I was standing.

Watch the light.  At times, God has literally put a spotlight on things for me.  To maximize your interaction with dramatic light, time your walk for the “Golden Hours” – the first and last hour of the day.

Consider contrast.  It may be, again, the play of sunlight against a dark background.  But it could also be an antiquated building neighboring a new one.  Or disorder juxtaposed with order.  Or poverty versus wealth.

Notice narrative.  What are the people around you doing?  What can you tell of their story?  For instance, who's driving this scene above -- the older girl or the younger boy?  Sometimes, you can read narrative simply by what people own and how they treat it.  It is a particularly useful skill to be perceptive about people.

Celebrate beauty.  Regardless of whether it’s a God-made flower or a man-made window arrangement, we are told in Scripture to seek what is lovely (Phil. 4:8).  But don’t overlook unconventional beauty.  A stark, winter landscape has an austere splendor.  Even stains of leaves on a sidewalk are worthy of admiration.  There is beauty everywhere when you learn how to look for it.

To keep this shorter, I won’t say much about listening except to encourage you to occasionally stop and count how many sounds you can hear.  Bird songs, distant trucks, a barking dog – we tune out so much.  Let this be a part of your newfound observational skills.

I hope this helps.  Next time, I’ll share about how to take what you notice and connect it to the heart.

Lord God, open our eyes and ears to find you in the world around us.  Awareness is a gift from you.  Take the things we notice and speak to us through them.  For we want our whole day to be a dialogue with you.

Reader: Tell me about something you’ve recently observed that spoke to you.

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Bruce Van Patter

As a freelance illustrator, graphic recorder, and author, Bruce is on a lifelong journey to delight in the handiwork of the Creator. And he’s always ready for fellow travelers.