Sustenance: Attention Grabbing

It is a spiritual practice of Unitarian-Universalists to light candles.  We light candles for things we are happy about, rejoicing, relieved of, and at peace about. We light candles for our sorrows, for what ails us, for worries and concerns.  Lighting a candle gives us something to do about our feelings, and it stands–as long as it burns–as a witness to our personal and communal experiences.  Each time I look upon the candle, I am called back to the experience which I marked when I lit it.

Recently, a social justice issue deeply disturbed me, and so in our home, in our living room, on the mantel over the fireplace, I lit a candle and said a prayer expressing my concerns and hopes for the situation and all the people involved.  Throughout the night, as I went about my evening activities, I continually had my attention drawn, even if for a moment, to the burning flame.  Each time that I and my attention were drawn to the flame was a renewal of what had led me to light it in the first place: both the anxiety and the hope.

I have thought of sustenance as whatever helps me get what I want, but I am beginning to see that there are things that call us to sustain somethings that are not only what we want but what we are called to.  I am not only sustained, but I am a part of that Spirit that sustains.  I am not only sustained, but I am a sustainer as well.

That night, the candle that I had lit in prayer grabbed my attention again and again.  In doing so, it sustained my prayer.  It sustained my care.  But, it also called me to engage myself into the cause for  which I was concerned. You see, sustenance is a two way street.  I receive.  I also give.   And the two are not separate.   THAT WHICH sustains me is also THAT WHICH calls me into ITSELF as a sustainer for others.

What’s grabbing your attention, today?

Bob Patrick

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