Multi-Faith and Belief Chaplaincy, For All Faiths and None

A Ritual of Noticing

This week's blog has been written by Associate Chaplain, Geoffrey Baines.

Green, yellow and pink doodle showing flowers in long grass. The text beside this is: noticing, noticing and noticing more.

Every time we participate in a ritual, we are expressing our beliefs, either verbally or more implicity.* (Evan Imber-Black)

the world within you will create the world around you** (Erwin McManus)

I have a problem when I go for a walk, especially walks in nature.

I’ve just been out for one and there was my problem again.

I keep stopping to look and try to take everything in …

The view across to Craigmillar Castle lit by the morning sun and across into the city of Edinburgh …

A little later I stop to take in the view across the Forth into Fife …

Then it was the playing in flight of several House Martins …

After that it was the reddening seed-heads of the tall Cow Parsley that were rattling in the breeze…

A few steps more and I stopped to feel the breeze on my skin and smell the scents of the flowers …

Then it was to take a picture of the path in front of me …

Photograph of a field with a path through the centre. In the background there a green trees and beyond there are hills in the distance.

A couple of days ago I was walking the same area with my wife Christine when I stopped to take in all of these things, only to turn around and find her smiling at me because I was doing it again.

This morning, I happened upon these words from M. C. Richards and it felt she was speaking truth to me:

The child takes in his world as if it were food. And his world nourishes or starves him. Nothing escapes his thirst. Secrets are impossible. He identifies with his surroundings, and they live with him unconsciously […].^

Perhaps I am rediscovering this, to connect with my child that dwells within me, opening a deeper way of seeing and being:

What we do with our attention, in short, is at the heart of what makes us human.^^

Every person’s attention is different, and yet, they are all connected.

The temptation is to notice what others are noticing, but we first need to notice what we are noticing.

Then we need to create rituals for noticing: walks, reading, photography, art, journaling, music, stillness … :

Rituals serve as tools through which we effectively manage energy in the service of whatever mission we are on.*^

These personal rituals should not be too confining or too loose for us. We want them not only to help us notice more in our familiar worlds but also to lead us into unfamiliar ones without becoming stale or too diffuse.

Beginning with something simple and allowing it to grow is a far better way to create a ritual; it also allows playfulness to be present from the beginning. Feeling the fun in creating meaningful rituals for ourselves is important.

So what you do you notice you’re noticing ? When you’re in this place are you able to connect to the child in you, full of curiosity and awe? If you haven’t already got a ritual for helping you notice more, what first thing could you do: where is the best place to be, when is the best time, what are the best and most enjoyable practices to employ?

I miss so much so I am still creating my rituals for noticing. I think it takes a lifetime, but that’s okay. Every day is an opportunity for adventure through the rituals we shape.

(*Evan Imber-Black, quoted in Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz’s The Power of Full Engagement.) (**From Erwin McManus’ The Way of the Warrior.) (^From M.. Richards’ Centering.) (^^From Rob Walker’s The Art of Noticing.) (*^From Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz’s The Power of Full Engagement.)