Guest post | Tim Hill | Awareness

I really liked this post by Tim Hill.... so I'm reprinting here....of course, he didn't have the girly lotus image.  That's just one I had on my computer as a background...

Over the past several weeks, I have been participating in the Transformational Trek Tribe led by Ron Martoia. It has been a unique and challenging spiritual formation experience primarily because it does not hinge on the traditional practices of mainline, Enlightenment, Protestant theology. Instead, it relates more to the practices of the ancient church leaders; leaning less on reason, and more on mystery. Key to this is a simple word: awareness. Awareness of the world around us. God around us; in us. A stillness of the inside and outside that allows us to be aware of things about which we might otherwise not take notice. The result is a profound change as our stillness allows the still small voice to be heard. Since beginning the centering prayer practices, I have found that I have undergone some changes, and it has been good. Awareness has helped me make some strides in my journey that I'd otherwise not been able to make as a result of me having to look outside my little bubble of reality.

Over the course of this experience, it has hit me just how awareness, or more specifically, the lack thereof has profoundly affected our day to day lives. Think about it. The person who cuts you off on the road as you're trying to get from point A to point B? They were likely so engrossed in their own little world that they were likely not even aware you were there until after the fact. The white collar criminal? I'd suggest that if he were acutely aware of the damage that his actions would have on others, he might be a bit more reluctant to err. What about plain old teenage adolescent behavior. Is it not at its core a self-absorption that stems from such an intense awareness of self that awareness of the other is muted?

Truly, I think that a lack of awareness is really what fuels most, if not all of our societal challenges. In fact, isn't that really what sin is: an illusion of separateness; a numbing of awareness as to how our choices and actions affect others and God? If so, then I'd suggest that the "renewing of your mind", the metanoia that the Apostle Paul writes about starts with cultivating a higher level of awareness.

Simple right? Not really.

Having grown up in the mountains of southwestern New Mexico, I had a lot of encounters with deer, and deer hunting is an integral part of the local culture. In my senior level biology class in high school (which focused on the local flora and fauna), I learned that deer are far less aware when they are moving as opposed to standing still. Deer bounding through the forest tend to be so tunnel visioned that they are oblivious to the dangers around them. It is only when they stand completely still that their enhanced senses can detect danger and avoid it.

We live in a crazy world. We are all constantly in motion, with tons of schedules to keep and things to do. Morning and evening commutes are filled with drivers who are just trying to get home as quickly as they can so they can have as much down time at home as possible before jetting off to the next activity. With this sort of chaotic, frenetic pace of life, is it any wonder that we're having accidents on the road and meltdowns at home? Staying still and listening is not something that we do easily or well.

How much healthier and more aware would be if we just set aside a few minutes every day with no kids, no computer, no iPhone (or in my case Droid), no pets, no spouses, etc. and closeted ourselves in a dark room with nothing but naturally occurring sounds around us? How would our awareness be sharpened? How would we change as we became more aware? How would our culture and our churches change if we REALLY practiced, "Be still and know that I am God?"

I will say that for me, the experience has been nothing short of refreshing.
© Random Cathy
Maira Gall