Amid all the noise around us, it’s easy to forget what matters. There’s the constant wrangle of our politicians; the constant buzz of social media; and the relentless barrage of advertisements in our consumer culture. But then something happens and we remember: the floods in Louisiana; the fires in California and most recently the earthquake in Italy.
In one of her short stories, Flannery O’Connor wrote about an elderly hard headed woman, “She’d been a good woman if there’d been someone to shoot her all the time.” O’Connor meant if the world would shake us out of our constant distraction or self-absorption, then we’d remember what’s important and what isn’t.
Next month I turn 66, and as a result I have begun to think about the time I have left in this life. One of my many commitments in retirement is to avoid as much distraction as I can and to focus on real joy and real pain and real beauty and real issues because the truth is we have no idea when a flood or fire or earthquake or car wreck or anything can happen.
Of course, this isn’t just a retirement issue; it’s an issue about being fully human. We live in an age of distraction, but we have the power to disregard the constant stream of trivia and focus on what lasts.
Pray for the people in Louisiana, California, and Italy. Go on the web to the Episcopal Relief and Development website and send some of your funds to help your brothers and sisters in these places. Most of all, pay attention to the hurts and hopes close to you and far away, and decrease your attention to the noise that cannot feed our souls. Our lives are short and God offers us too much goodness, beauty and love as well as tragedy, heartache and pain for us not to be aware.
This is the day the Lord has made. Let us be alive in it.