I am having a hard time focusing this summer! Even though I am no longer traveling, and trying to attend to hearth and home, to what is local and in front of me, I am enormously distracted and all over the place in my thinking and affections. The world is swirling in pain, in division and in need. People I love are careering around the world from one fascinating place to another, and taking their friends with them in narrative and image. Lists of the Summer’s Best–books, movies, music–occupy pride of place in what I read and observe. It seems to be the season for activated fund raising of every kind–charity, politics, and churches trying to make budget. Where is a person to focus? How is a person to decide which one is a call? And how do I keep myself from being distracted?
I have always loved William Blake, 18th C. poet and engraver. His monotype of Sir Isaac Newton, on view in the Tate Britain in London, was intended to be a criticism of the Enlightenment, a period in which processes of reason and logic began to supplant the Romanticism of the previous era with which Blake felt to resonant. In 1988, the British Library commissioned a bronze sculpture based on Blake’s etching, rendered by Sir Edward Paolozzi of Scotland, to be placed in its entry court; my guess is that it is more of an affirmation of Newton’s rational attention, than Blake’s romantic dissent. When I first saw it this spring, I was overwhelmed first with its size and its intensity, and then with the way that even though it was an ekphrastic rendering of Blake’s initial work, it emphasized a completely different quality of knowledge and activity–that of seeking to do one thing only with all one’s body and mind.
Focus me, O Holy One…into the silence, diminish the noises and images and sensations that do not belong to today, and bring all parts of my being to attending to the Word you give to me in this moment. Amen.