Thursday, March 22, 2007

Broken In

Think of your favorite pair of shoes and the time when they were brand new. Did they give you just a little thrill the first few times you stepped into them? Did you think about how they felt on your feet as you walked? Did they give you blisters or rub the wrong way? Did you cast an admiring glance at them as you crossed your legs, noticing the little details of the shoes?
Were you aware of them as you wore them?
Are you still aware of them, or are they broken in so well that you hardly notice that they're on your feet?

I was walking down Amsterdam the other day, and my steps seemed to be sure, and solid, and...forgettable. It struck me that the city feels broken in to me now. It is (relatively) comfortable and familiar. The new-ness, the strangeness of it doesn't burn like it used to. I don't notice little details; it doesn't thrill or blister like it did for the first while we lived here.

I'm grateful for the comfort that comes at this broken in stage, thankful for my ability to adapt to a new environment and culture. But it saddens me a bit that I am beginning to fail to notice the city and the people in it. Failing to appreciate its beautiful complexity in detail, as I did before.

Anne Lamott has written a book, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, in which I remembered her saying, "There is ecstasy in paying attention. " But it takes a conscious effort to do that, right? It's hard work. And to not only notice, but to process--to think, "How does that relate to what I know, what I have experienced, seen, read, feel?"

To me, the payoff of the hard work is witnessing the wonder of God's hand, moving among the details, revealing himself to us. Sometimes I'll notice something, something tiny and seemingly insignificant that maybe only I saw, and I will think, "God arranged that. And I was part of it."

And his presence melts me.


TeSlaa said...

You are an awesome writer! Loved the entry

Lorraine said...

Beautiful. Paying attention is what I've been working on this Lent. It's hard.