“Attention consists of suspending our thought, leaving it detached, empty …ready to receive in its naked truth the object that is to penetrate it.'” Simone Weil
“To love someone is to grant him or her the gift of one’s pure and undivided attention, without preconceived expectations of what the other person needs, what we imagine to be best in the situation, what particular results we want to engineer. This is a love finally purged of the ego’s calculating desires, a love without strings. It contemplates other people with the same wonder it has found in contemplating God. The choice is simple, as Alan Jones contends: ‘We either contemplate or we exploit. We either see things and persons with reverence and awe, and therefore threat them as genuinely other than ourselves; or we appropriate them, and manipulate them for our own purposes.’ Love as distributed attentiveness is the only form that justice can take in a world of people aching for attention. Contemplative prayer must be fulfilled in the loving contemplation of one’s neighbor. …Simone Weil learned this from her experience with oppressed factory workers in Paris, with poor miners and vine-workers in southern France. ‘Those who are unhappy,’ she said, ‘have no need for anything in this world but people capable of giving them their attention. The capacity to give one’s attention to a sufferer is a very rare and difficult thing; it is almost a miracle; it is a miracle.’ Remaining indifferent to every predetermined program for ‘helping the poor’ and, instead, being altogether present to the person before us–this is the desert practice of love as justice. ‘It is the recognition that the sufferer exists, not only as a unit in a collection, or a specimen from the social category labeled ‘unfortunate,’ but as a man, exactly like us.’ [S. Weil]” Belden Lane
“All things excellent, are as difficult as they are rare.” Edward Abbey
“Jesus looked at him and loved him.”
Moving From the Head to the Heart
- Can you grant someone your “pure and undivided attention?”
- Can you approach someone who is “other” to you, and “contemplate” them, as you would contemplate God?
- Can you see an immigrant, a homeless woman, an addict, a convict–not as a “specimen from the social category”, but as a person of value, like you?
Abba, I want to love without strings. I want to grant the miraculous gift of attention to others. Help me!
For More: Waiting for God by Simone Weil
These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. My goal is to regularly share something of unique value with you in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest! – Bill