Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Focal Living

The following contains summary quotes of the section of the same name in the book: 

The Way Is Made by Walking: A Pilgrimage Along the Camino de Santiago

Focal living helps us identify and perceive . . . a quality of life that we miss and long to find. . . When existence seems shallow and unfulfilling, focal concerns can “center and illuminate” our lives. . . Focal concerns are objects, activities, or practices with several qualities. (p, 134-135)

They take energy or effort; they make demands on us.  They require discipline, attention and focus.  And they are beyond our control and beyond our ability to manipulate or consume.   (p. 135)

. . . [They] have deep and evident connections with the wider world. (p. 135)

. . . [F]ocal realities have “centering” or orienting power. They help us experience and be in touch with something “as greater than myself and of ultimate significance.” (p. 135)

He urges us to practice focal living with these four affirmations:

There is no place I would rather be.

There is nothing I would rather do.

There is no one I would rather be with.

This I will remember well.



This is an example of focus.  At the time I was sitting on my deck at my cabin and this moth landed on my kindle.  I coaxed it onto my shirt where I could photograph it better.  There was no place I would have rather been, nothing I would have rather done, no one I would have rather been with (my husband had just stepped inside), and I will remember it well.  I will remember my posture in the chair as I leaned back with my feet on the seat of the picnic table in front of me.  I remember my Kindle but not what I was reading.  I remember the fresh smell of the forest in the breeze and the rat-a-tat-tat of the woodpecker on the sumac branch nearby. 

That is focal living.  It required discipline to stay still, pay attention to the moth (and to all else around me), and focus.  The breeze, the aroma, the music, and the moth, were not mine to manipulate.  All had connections to the wider world of nature and nature’s God.  And there was certainly a centering power as I was completely alive in that place with the moth.

Focal living can take place anywhere.  It is happening now as I communicate with myself and you through this writing.  It is present when I work on computers or make dinner.  It is present when I eat with friends or spend time in a good book.

Pay attention to life and focal living.  What are some of your focal moments?


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