You Don't Need a Weatherman

Having just finished a couple of Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, I find it interesting what people think about the power of observation and how it is that people think observation is being done.

It is not true that the quiet types are the ones who are just sitting back and taking it all in, noticing all the details while the flibbergidgets are oblivious. "Quiet types" may be very observant, but not necessarily. I know quiet folks who are also kind of spacey - the "absent-minded professor" and all that - who are fairly oblivious to their surroundings.

On the other hand, people with certain types of attention issues, including those who talk a lot and/or have ADD, are "scanners," both when they are at social events and when they are just driving down the street. They constantly scan the environment, picking up all kinds of information. (And, again, some - not all.)

Some of us who do this are likely to blurt out what we see in the middle of a conversation about something else (this is called, "Look! A bird!"). (I have linked before to the "serenity prayer" for each Myers-Briggs type, but here it is again. I am an ENFP myself: God, help me keep my mind on one thing - Look, a bird - at a time.) For these people (and again, I'm one of them and I have already apologized to my family numerous times for trying their patience) it is hard to have a long conversation with just one person at a party. There are too many other faces and conversations going on and the pull to scan in that environment is almost overwhelming, even when one's conversation partner is really very interesting.

[Side note: I also happen to really like birds and so I literally do say "look, a bird!" quite frequently. I did notice, however, then when we were driving down the street one day and I blurted out in the middle of another conversation, "Look, a new IHOP is being built!" that my family responded immediately, "where???" Apparently, "look, a bird!" is irritating but "look, an IHOP!" is interesting.]

I don't mind that I am a scanner. I find that my powers of observation have served me very well in my life. I can pick up on all kinds of things, of both immediate and longer term import. I can look for God working in the world and in my life and in the lives of those around me because I'm nearly always "on." I can see what's going on with the people I encounter. And as a priest, I expect to find God working in us and in the world, so my looking has a purpose beyond idle curiosity. It comes naturally.

But I also realize that that's just how I operate. I am sure that others gather information about God's work in the world, as well as the ways of hummingbirds and can spot good seashells from a distance, too, but they may gather it in different ways than I do. I'd love to hear about how other people use their powers of observance and how that fits in with their personalities and their ways of being in the world. What comes naturally to you? How and where do you observe the world and how God is working in it? And how do you communicate that to others?