As part of our celebrations for our 30th anniversary, we spent some time collectively reflecting on our motto and how we live it out.
The fourth word of our motto is attend. At the first level, to attend is to be present, to pay attention to what is right here, right now. Again, the negative image gives an idea what attending is not: it is not “checking out”, not living according to past fears or future fears. To live entrained by events in the past or by projections of the future makes us unable to live right where we are in the present. Our life in Christ is meant to lead us into the freedom that can live now, even if the growth into such freedom is worked out slowly over weeks and years of struggle.
To attend is to live in an attitude of expectant, active listening to each moment, to be alive to the tuition of circumstance and the small still voice of the Holy Spirit. We are engaged in being a gatekeeper for our heart and thoughts: actively choosing what goes in, what comes out, what we occupy ourselves with. This is “one-pointedness”, desiring to choose the one thing necessary, and being awake enough to discern it in the moment we are in. The flip side of attending means, through allowing, being able to discern what is not necessary. The “wisdom to know the difference” is learned through the slow process of learning to pay attention to God’s presence through each moment.
Attending also has a quality of thanksgiving. This is well expressed by Dag Hammarskjöld’s saying, “For all that has been — Thanks. For all that shall be — Yes.” There is a liberating, joyous freedom in choosing the one moment we have with all its possibilities. Everything is decided there, and there we encounter both God and our neighbor.