Signposts: Daily Devotions

Thursday, May 8

My eyes are awake before each watch of the night, that I may meditate on your promise.
—Psalm 119:148

As novelist Henry James once remarked, “A writer is one on whom nothing is lost.” The same can be said for those engaged in spiritual exploration. When we actually pay attention to our life—to its landscape and to all with whom we interact—we find ourselves with a “text” that is rich indeed.

This doesn’t mean taking our spiritual temperature every five minutes or making long, copious notes about the things we do each day. What it does suggest, however, is a deeper level of engagement with the world.

We’ve all had the experience: Driving in our cars, following a route we know by heart, we suddenly discover that an entire building has been erected overnight, or a plot of ground has been cleared since the last time we passed. Talking with a friend, we realize, as if for the first time, that he shaved the beard he’d had for years or that she’s started wearing glasses. “How did I miss that?” we may wonder. But miss it we did.

Given that we operate on sensory overload much of the time, it’s no surprise that we miss a great many things. That said, however, learning to pay attention, not just to the big picture but to subtle nuances and shifts, is an important step on any spiritual path.

Some people, for example, know that rain is coming when they catch a certain scent in the air or see a specific plant in bloom. Others, sensitive to the subtleties within relationships, may learn as much from a gesture or tone of voice as from a lengthy conversation. In the kind of self-examination that leads to a deeper spiritual life, such attentiveness is key.

How do we discern where our spiritual path is taking us? Like any would-be traveler, we can start by reading the signs.

O God, give me vision keen enough to see you moving in the shadows, hearing sensitive enough to recognize your voice in the shifting wind.

The Signposts for May are written by Susan Hanson and originally appeared on in September 2004.