Jesus said, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside, everything comes in parables; in order that ‘they may indeed look, but not perceive, and may indeed listen, but not understand.’” - Mark 4:11-12 (NRSV)
In How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy, artist and author Jenny Odell says that birdwatching should really be called bird-listening, since most of the time you are not watching birds so much as noticing their song, then working really hard to try to identify where it is coming from, hoping for a shadowy glimpse of colored feathers amidst the leaves and branches.
Listening for, and looking for, God can be like that. God is present, throughout our frenetic busyness—but scarcely noticed until we start to actively pay attention, to tune in to God’s siren song amidst all the straight-up sirens of life.
Just for today, become a God-watcher. Stop frequently in your travels from here to there. Lift up your heart, put your senses on alert, filter through the ordinary for the extraordinary. Then circle back to the ordinary and pay attention as if for the first time.
Ask yourself, “Where is the song here? What happens if I play it backwards? What is the secret message?” Wait for an answer, a divine communication. Remember that silence is sometimes how God sings, but there’s meaning and purpose even in what seems like no-answer.
God, I resist you while giving in to every other noisemaker that calls my name. Help me to resist the roar of culture, social media, overwork, the plangent whining of my own ego, and to isolate your voice alone. Amen.
Molly Baskette is Senior Minister of First Congregational Church UCC in Berkeley, California, and the author of the best-selling Real Good Church, Standing Naked Before God, and her newest baby, Bless This Mess: A Modern Guide to Faith and Parenting in a Chaotic World.