focal practice

the newest Mars Hill Audio volume (113) is worth the price of a whole year’s subscription. there is so much great stuff on it that i could spend posts and posts talking about it all. here is what host ken myers wrote in the intro to the volume:

The magic word for this issue is PRACTICES.

The new issue of the Journal is relentlessly practical. Each of the guests has thoughtfully addressed the way our embodied selves engage creation and culture. They are each interested in the interaction of practices, affections, and beliefs.

Science, technology, community, food and farming, place, and teaching: these are the springboard subjects that launch some compelling conversations, conversations heard on the Journal and forthcoming conversations with your friends and colleagues.

the timing of this volume felt providential. we have moved. we are in a new place that requires rethinking our daily practices and habits and rhythms. one of the interviews is with arthur boers about his new book Living Into Focus: Choosing What Matter in an Age of Distractions.  boers uses the language of developing focal practices – a practice that is centered on something meaningful. it is something that takes skill, effort, thought and time and cannot be manipulated or consumed. boers is a fan of technology and what it can offer us but:

We must pay attention to what is supplanted by our habits of technology usage…What concerns or distresses one about technology is its tendency to destroy or displace things and practices that grace and orient our lives. p19

his examples are numerous: hiking, gardening, playing an instrument, sewing, singing, worship, etc. reading and listening to him made me realize how easy it is for me to not cultivate focal practices. i wouldn’t say that it is because i am being constantly distracted by the computer or technology, but i would say that it is mostly because technology has disrupted by sense of focus on the whole. i feel i get distracted more easily by the idea of moving on to something else. whatever that else is.

this afternoon the three kids headed out the back door into the yard after quiet time, school time, and snack time. they ran and played and created and explored. i sat by the window and realized that i was watching one of the reasons we moved – we wanted space for them to run and play. and then i realized i was sitting on the piano bench and that the piano was next to the window that let me see everything that was going on back there. so i played for close to an hour. it was rusty and my fingers started to hurt, and i was distracted numerous times and thought that perhaps i should get up and move on to something more “useful”. but the kids knew i was sitting there. they could hear me. they commented on what i was playing. asher and i had a conversation about learning music and how it can be frustrating and not so lovely sounding. we were engaging – engaging each other, creation, and culture.

now go subscribe.


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