A necessary part of this learning concerns the need to train ourselves to be attentive to the divine kingdom around us, and the divine voice within. For many, we simply have not developed the ability for such single hearted focus. The world of distractions, in which we are immersed, has provided a different sort of training. Our focus continually shifts from one thing to the next. The ever shifting landscape of images, sounds, and slogans constantly barge in upon us. Thus, so often the Kingdom of God gets squeezed out of attentiveness.
Thomas Kelly writes: "There is a way of ordering our mental life on more than one level at once. On one level we may be thinking, discussing, seeing, calculating, meeting all the demands of external affairs. But deep within, behind the scenes, at a profounder level, we may also be in prayer and adoration, song and worship and a gentle receptiveness to divine breathings." It is, what Kelly describes, as living from a 'divine center' in the midst of the tapestry of our regular life.
This centred living, however, while life-giving when it is achieved, can take some time to cultivate. Physical reminders, such as carrying a cross in your pocket, can serve as a needed reminder to refocus our lives and re-engage in a life of divine attentiveness. The manner this takes place in our lives can take many forms. You can use the physical presence of the cross to remember a Bible verse. In this manner, whenever you consciously recognize the cross in your pocket, or put your hand in your pocket and feel the cross, you inwardly repeat the verse of delay. Similarly, the same practice can be done as a reminder to pray. Here you may take a few moments, attempting to again enter into the 'divine centre' that Kelly spoke of. Or, you may simply hold a loved one, or a particular situation in prayer.
A contemporary version of this may be to use a religious picture as your cell phone screen. Many people today have smart-phones with personalized home-screens. What is more, for many the cell-phone is the tool which links them to the world around them. The cell phone is the tool for e-mail, messages, social media interactions, shopping, research, games, and host of other activities. Because of this, the cell-phone is perhaps the biggest tool of distraction in this modern day. It is simply the case that people are always on their phones. Changing the home-screen image to something that will remind you of the need for a single-hearted focus upon God's Kingdom is a wonderful way to interrupt the flow of distractions that come from the phone. Amid the dings and beeps of notifications, opening the phone, and seeing religious image on the home screen, calls us to you take a moment to be look to the Spirit of God, to root ourselves in the presence of God, to meditate, to pray, to look for where the drawing of the Spirit, before we look at the email or notification.
The beauty of this practice, whether a physical cross in the pocket or an image on our cell-phone, is that it only a second. It's strength, however, is found in training ourselves to be open to God's Spirit. In the midst of a hectic world it bares the constant reminder to step out of a life in which we are be distracted and consumed by the things of the world, and into a life in which we consciously open ourselves, single heartedly, to the things of God. Furthermore, born out over time, this practice equips us to not be 'distracted by many things', as we find ourselves being able to focus on 'the greater thing' for longer periods of time.