What are You Lookin At

Ben&smudgeI often wonder about the focus of my life. Perhaps I'm too concerned about the ramifications of urgent minutia.

This summer I took some photos of my son, Ben, playing with our dog, Smudge, in the backyard. It was one of those carefree moments when I felt like life was alive within each of us. I remember reflecting later that day that we hadn't really "accomplished" anything… except that we had spent the day smiling & laughing, enjoying the company of one another, being playful, and simply attending to life. It was one of the best days of our summer.

The cold weather in Minnesota is now starting to set in. So for the last thirty minutes I've been scanning through our summer photos… wondering if life this winter could possible ever be as heart-releasing. We're so busy right now, so "focused" on everything we need to do, so devoted to tyranny.

This picture of Ben and Smudge shook me to the core. It captures for me a memory of the carefree. And, to my surprise, there is no lack of focus in this moment. Ben is focused. The dog is focused. And they are loving the moment. In a second, just beyond the frame of this picture, Ben will motion to grab the ball and Smudge will grasp it in his teeth and dart off around the yard, taunting Ben with a wag of his tail, causing Ben to smile and laugh. No distractions. No worries. No urgencies to tarry. 

Maybe my fall/winter focus is a bit distorted. In the attempt to focus energy to accomplish our goals and activities as the school year has started, perhaps I've shifted my eyes to the winds and waves of the pressure of busyness. Time to recalibrate again to the freedom of community and presence.

Ken Castor

Ken Castor is a husband, dad, pastor, writer and teacher. He serves as a professor at Crown College, Minnesota, where he equips students to pursue Jesus-Centered Faith and Next Generation Ministry. For 20+ years he's focused on equipping the next generations in places like the U.S., Canada, and Northern Ireland. He's the author of Grow Down (Simply Youth Ministry, 2014), Make a Difference (Broadstreet, 2016), the Blue-Letters Editor of the Jesus-Centered Bible (Group, 2015) and numerous other articles and Bible Study guides. But, whenever possible, he gets down on the floor and builds Lego with his kids. Connect with him @kencastor.

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