Melbourne-based writer Rachael Lopez contemplates how her new baby has taught her to “look up”.
My eight-month old baby loves staring at people on trains. He’ll choose someone interesting and fixate on their face for the entire journey. Most of the time, though, no connection is made because their attention is elsewhere. As he looks up from his pram with his big brown eyes, all he sees is everyone looking down at their device. Occasionally he’ll get someone’s attention and it’s beautiful to watch him smile and giggle with a complete stranger. I know he managed to brighten someone’s day and they his. Because all babies yearn for connection. And it’s all any of us want, really.
Disconnect to Reconnect
In late April I spent a week in the country drinking tea, reading books and trying to avoid mosquito bites. I challenged myself to go off social media for a month as I wanted to be more present with my family. One of the books I read while away was Slow by Australian writer and host of The Slow Home podcast, Brooke McAlary. She encourages her readers: “Switch off our phones and get outside. Talk to people at the coffee shop. Offer a stranger an anonymous kindness. . . Pay attention to the person sitting next to us. Pay attention to the child whose eyes so often only see yours turned away.”
Each week at a local café, I gather a group of women for a book-club to chat about spiritual growth books. Our latest find is Sensible Shoes by Sharon Garlough and it’s about four women on a journey of spiritual formation. Three words keep appearing throughout: awake, attentive and alert. If I’m mindlessly scrolling, clicking and snapping photos, I not only fail to be present with those physically around me. I find myself dulled to God’s creation, too distracted to notice His presence and detached from His work in the world.
How do these three words speak to me in my not-yet-slow life?
Awake – not just with caffeine but drinking-in my surroundings, the beauty of nature, art and architecture.
Attentive – not looking for likes but attune to God’s presence and the people around and with me.
Alert – not to notifications but watchful for opportunities to share God’s love with others.
As a new mum, I often get asked milestone questions. “Is he sleeping through the night yet?” Nope. “Can he crawl yet?” Nope. But another question I get asked a lot is “What do you love most about being a mum?”
My baby teaches me to look up.