"Look At Me"

I’ve been picking up a sense of fear from people (many who wouldn’t admit to it) off and on for months—regardless how they planned to vote. I was out walking a few days before the election with my mind jumping all over the map when I suddenly heard (in my mind’s ear) my daughter saying, “Look at me! Cassie, look at me!”

Julia got a rescue dog a couple of months ago. Nearly 3-years-old, Cassie has excellent inside manners, but she needs a lot of training for walking outside. Smells are so distracting, as are other dogs. They came to my house after a first obedience class, and Julia spent time merely trying to sustain Cassie’s attention. “Cassie, look at me!”

“Look at me! Look at me!” How many times have I said in writing or one-on-one or speaking publicly that our job is to keep our eyes on God? “Look at me!” My mind was so distracted that day; prayer seemed almost impossible. But the words kept coming back. “Look at me, Sara Beth! Look at me!” Merely turning my attention Godward is prayer, even when it’s hard. Especially when it’s hard.

When I talk about looking Godward, it isn’t about looking up somewhere out there far away. God is right here, right now in everything. Turning Godward is about seeing God and the things of God wherever we are, whatever is going on, and however we name or image the Source and Sustainer of Life. George Fox had a powerful image of “an ocean of darkness and death; but also an infinite ocean of light and love, which flowed over the ocean of darkness. In that I saw the infinite love of God.” We have a choice to keep our eyes on the darkness and death or on the Light and Love.
“Look at me!” I have sometimes asked for what I refer to as “reminder angels” to help me refocus. My daughter’s voice seemed an answer to prayer that day. “Look at me!”

Turning our eyes to God means focusing on Love in all its myriad forms. It means focusing on the kindness and gentleness we see around us rather than the anger. It means choosing faith and hope over despair—even if we have to do it minute by minute. It means listening deeply for the places of connection with other human beings—the hurt places, the fearful or vulnerable ones. It means focusing on what is beautiful or true or just rather than giving rein to our critical, judgmental, or fearful selves. I’m not talking about denial of what is, but making the very hard human choice not to use the implements of destruction while claiming to be about love or claiming to be a follower of Jesus Christ. We will fail over and over again, but seeing where we do is a form of looking Godward. Any prayer or meditation or awareness practice is a means of looking Godward. Carrying a word or image or stone through the day to remind us is a way of refocusing once again.

“Look at me!” When I start thinking about the what if’s or let fear start running without a leash through my mind, I need to find a way to look Godward. “Help me God! I offer you this distraction, this fear, this judgment I can’t seem to stop inside me.” Repeat as needed.

“Look at me!” Saying thank you can open us to God’s presence and to Love. We may have to work hard to say thank you to begin with, but as we keep it up, gratitude blossoms inside us. Start with anything. “Thank you for the orange and red leaves on the maple and for the shade it gave in the summer and the opportunity for exercise in raking season. Thank you for the birds on the feeder and the little miracles of flight that they are. Thank you that you care for them so. And thank you that you care for me and my family and my friends, even if I don’t always see or feel it. Thank you for the chance to learn acceptance of myself and others one more time. Thank you for the opportunity to live in new ways what I claim to believe with my words. Thank you for the people who have loved and supported me whether I knew it at the time or not. Thank you for the ones loving and supporting me now, whether I can see it and feel it or not.”

“Look at me!” As we keep turning our eyes to God one way or another, we begin to let go the things keeping us all separate. We begin to be Love in new ways. We begin to heal ourselves, one another and our world.