The Attentive Life: Discerning God's Presence in All Things


Leighton Ford heads Leighton Ford Ministries, which seeks to help young-leaders worldwide to lead more like Jesus.
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The Attentive Life: Discerning God's Presence in All Things

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Leighton Ford heads Leighton Ford Ministries, which seeks to help young-leaders worldwide to lead more like Jesus.
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Editorial Reviews

John Ortberg
"This is a book of such quiet beauty and deep simplicity it is difficult to describe. I was both pierced and healed by longing in the reading of it. The word soul is thrown around far too easily these days, but this book will touch the soul if you let it."
Ronald Rolheiser
"Leighton Ford writes with insight, faith and balance. This book, like Jesus, transcends all denominational lines. Drawing on the wisdom of many traditions, The Attentive Life is a warm invitation to wake up, not just to the reality of God but to what is deepest inside of us. This is a gold mine of wisdom and balance, a challenging thought on every page. I heartily recommend it to readers of all faiths."
Ruth Haley Barton
"Awakening is a central metaphor for the spiritual life. In a compelling voice that comes from years of spiritual journeying, Leighton Ford shows us how to wake up and pay attention to the presence of God--through the hours of our days and the seasons of our lives."
Luci Shaw
"My heart sings when I realize that Leighton Ford's intelligent experience continues to look with longing for more. His attention keeps getting arrested by words, ideas, images, details of the natural and supernatural landscapes. . . . This book is a primer in how to respond actively to Jesus' challenge: 'Behold! Look! Listen! Take notice! There is still so much for you to discover.'"
Richard J. Foster
"I thank God for The Attentive Life. It provides an antidote to the primary spiritual problem of our day: distraction. The Attentive Life is the mature reflections of one who has spent a lifetime walking in the way of Jesus."
Publishers Weekly

Ford would seem an unlikely candidate to write a gentle, moving introduction to traditional monastic spirituality. As Billy Graham's brother-in-law and frequent stand-in, Ford's evangelical bona fides are unquestionable. Yet he describes the details of life at Mepkin Abbey, a Trappist monastery in South Carolina, with the eye of the avid amateur painter he also is. Reading this book you'll find yourself scribbling down prayers from obscure medieval figures like a certain St. Fursey. Ford is also appealing as he describes odd gestures he's willing to make in search of the God who's present in the everyday: hugging a tree, hugging himself in an airport with passersby all around, revealing his own struggles with his image and how to pursue God rather than his own self-aggrandizement. He does make a distinctly Protestant addition to the tradition of monastic spirituality, insisting that the most rigorous of spiritual practices are for all believers. The few missteps are slight: Ford's references to his heavy travel schedule and frequent vacations do threaten to make this feel like a spirituality for the upper-middle class only, and his readings of scripture tend to the emotive and literal. (May)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal

Ford's credentials include 30 years of service with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, as well as frequent appearances on Graham's Hour of Decisionradio broadcast. A spirit of ecumenism informs Ford's gracefully written guide to thoughtful prayer and attentiveness to God's voice, based on the very ancient Christian ritual of praying the canonical Hours. Each section is accompanied by a short reflection on "One Who Paid Attention," including the likes of Henri Nouwen, C.S. Lewis, and Ford's dog Wrangler. Ford includes an appendix with suggested prayers for observing the Hours. For most collections.

—Graham Christian Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780830835164
  • Publisher: InterVarsity Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/2008
  • Pages: 229
  • Sales rank: 1,376,064
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Leighton Ford is President of Leighton Ford Ministries, which seeks to help young leaders worldwide to lead more like Jesus and more to Jesus. For many years, Ford communicated Christ around the globe through speaking, writing and media outreach, addressing millions of people in thirty-seven countries on every continent. He served from 1955 until 1985 as Associate Evangelist and later Vice President of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and was featured as the alternate speaker to Billy Graham on the Hour of Decision broadcast.

Ford describes his current mission to be "an artist of the soul and a friend on the journey." He served for nearly twenty years as chairman of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, an international body of Christian leaders. He chairs the Sandy Ford Fund and has served as a board member for World Vision U. S., the Duke University Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He received the 1990 Two Hungers Award, recognizing his contributions to addressing the physical and spiritual hungers of people around the world. In 1985 he was selected as Clergyman of the Year by Religious Heritage of America and TIME Magazine singled him out as being "among the most influential preachers of an active gospel."

The author or co-author of numerous books, includingTransforming Leadership and The Attentive Life, Ford lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with his wife Jean.

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Table of Contents

Introduction Short Flights and Quick Returns 9

One Who Paid Attention: C. S. Lewis Looking Along a Beam 16

1 Paying Attention: The Hours of Our Lives 19

One Who Paid Attention: Simone Weil on a Postage Stamp 48

2 The Birthing Hour: Time Before Time 50

One Who Paid Attention: Vincent Donovan - the Masai Chief, the Missionary and the Lion God 62

3 Daybreak: The Hour of Beginnings 64

One Who Paid Attention: The Teacher Who Took Off His Hat 79

4 Prime Time: Our Root System 81

One Who Paid Attention: My Spiritual Director Dog 97

5 Active Life: A Slower Pace in a Faster World 99

One Who Paid Attention: Kierkegaard's Lanterns, Fireworks and Stars 114

6 The Noonday Demon: Our Distractible Selves 116

One Who Paid Attention: How Mother Teresa Kept Going 131

Holy Stillness: An Interlude 133

7 When Shadows Come: Darkness Comes Early 141

One Who Paid Attention: Jerry Sittser Trying to Catch the Sun 162

8 Lighting the Lamps: The House with Golden Windows 163

One Who Paid Attention: Henri Nouwen, a Restless Prophet 180

9 Grandfather Time: When Evening Comes 182

One Who Paid Attention: Hwee Hwee Tan - Becoming What We Look At 198

Epilogue: The Journey Home 200

Appenddx Observing the Hours 205

Notes 212

In Attention to Gratitude 223

Permissions 227

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  • Posted June 6, 2012

    excellent antidote to crazy culture

    As a lifelong lover of words, this is one of the most beautiful, brilliant books I've read. It's also among the best antidotes out there to the neurotic, hyperactivity of most of modern, ahem, 'culture'. Reading it is to rest in and learn from the stillness, depth, clarity, gentle humour and high perspective of its author, Dr. Leighton Ford. “Often we keep ourselves busy and distracted because we fear that if we slow down and are still, we may look inside and find nothing there," sums up his cultural critique. In a section entitled 'One Who Paid Attention: C.S. Lewis Looking Along a Beam', Ford writes of Lewis’s realization of "two ways of looking at life: looking at the dancing and moving events, the happenings and surroundings of each day, and looking 'sideways' so to speak, 'along the beam’ to see not only what is happening but why, and what it is that gives meaning to the happenings of our lives." We need to both look 'at' and 'along' the beams each and every day, Ford encourages us. He blames French philosopher René Descartes for bedevilling us with dualism: the idea of a division between mind and matter. “Many of us now assume,” he writes, “that knowledge is either 'scientific' and based on facts or 'mystical' and based on fancy, and never the twain shall meet.” Again he brings in my most favourite author on the planet, C.S. Lewis, to provide the counterargument: “God must have loved material things: after all, he made them!” Ford writes that he hopes “this book will help us to pay close attention both to the beams that surround us and the Source that upholds us, in such a way that time and eternity, this world and the next, are always intersecting.” In other well-chosen words, “that not just the experiments of the scientist or the intuitions of the mystic will save us and transform this world.”

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