Attention

« Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity »

Simone Weil (published in the posthumous collection of her writings, Gravity & Grace, 1952)

I love that thought. Being truly generous is important, I think. It’s such a joy-bringing thing. And I think I recognise from experience how precious the gift of attention can be. Attention to another human being; total, kind, open and generous attention. And also attention of the same sort towards other creatures and the whole natural world.

Having a rescued cat has drawn my attention more deeply towards other creatures (including plants, trees, rivers and stones). Or perhaps has reignited the way I used to attend to the natural world when I was a child? And, along with the poetry of Mary Oliver, has deepened my attention to everything. And this whole process has deepened my gratitude for the wonder of it all; for the natural world and for my fellow human beings.

All of which, in a time of climate crisis, is so important. Weil continues:

« Attention, taken to its highest degree, is the same thing as prayer. It presupposes faith and love.

Absolutely unmixed attention is prayer. »

Simone Weil

« Instructions for Living a Life.

Pay attention.

Be astonished.

Tell about it. »

Mary Oliver

Thanks to my friend Kathryn and to Maria Popova in Brain Pickings, for bringing these things to my attention: https://www.brainpickings.org/2015/08/19/simone-weil-attention-gravity-and-grace/

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