Do you remember the last time you were surprised by life? I mean surprised in a good way—the gratuitous, unsolicited, right-place-right-time kind of surprise. It can be a word, an action, or sometimes a seemingly random thought that stops you in your tracks. In my experience, it always involves paying attention. photo (2) This petunia surprised me this morning. It’s growing out of a crack in the concrete in front of our house. How it got there and how it flourishes is something only God knows. If I had allowed myself to be distracted by the gazillion things on my To Do list today I could easily have missed it. Instead, God gifted me with what feels like grace: a reminder that life rises strong and beautiful from the most unlikely places—like sidewalks or a word from an estranged relative or friend, the loss of a job, or facing a life-changing diagnosis. In her poem The Summer Day one of my favorite poets, Mary Oliver, put it this way: “I don’t know exactly what a prayer is. I do know how to pay attention . . . “  I think Mary Oliver is on to something. Why not try slowing down today and pay attention to what’s around you? You just may be gifted by God’s lavish grace!