This season of the year is once again teaching me the importance of being attentive. Fall, Lowcountry style, is finally here with falling leaves, morning haze, frosty grass, and crisp air. 

Because they are quite different than the experiences of my youth in North Dakota, I still look forward to the changes that come down here with this season. I have, however, learned that I need to be alert, or I might miss it all. 

Changes can be subtle, evolving rather than crashing in, often complete before I expect. Too often, I can be preoccupied with seemingly more important things and miss the wonderful moments for which I long. 

The same is true of our journey of faith. It is easy to simply miss all the opportunities to experience God’s quiet, subtle presence breaking through into our everyday lives. Conflicts in our society and communities, concern about war, jobs, homes, and family, and the stress of disease, pandemic, and otherwise, and the reality that death comes for all vie for our attention and energy. 

These significant events make it even more challenging to be attentive to the little but often more frequent ways God reminds us that God is still present, working for good in the world and in us.

Being intentionally attentive, viewing all of life through the lens of faith, offers the opportunity to be open to the many small acts of grace and mercy that come our way by the power of God working through other people around us. 

I’ll admit that working through people isn’t the most logical way or the most reliable way. But it does seem to be God’s way. If so, then all of the small acts of kindness and courage that take place, especially amid the horror of big tragedies, can be signs of a living, active God at work for good each and every day. 

And when you and I also share small acts of kindness, we enter into new lives connected and grafted into the very heart of God. But one has to be attentive, watching for both the signs of God’s grace and our opportunities to act, much like being attentive to the changing season. 

So, I will be especially attentive to watching for God’s presence in all the days and events ahead. I don’t want to miss the signs – and the opportunity to give God the thanks and glory. 

May it be so for you, too!

Pete Berntson is the pastor of Church of the Palms United Methodist Church in Okatie