“But while we are confined to books, though the most select and classic, and read only particular written languages, which are themselves but dialects and provincial, we are in danger of forgetting the language which all things and events speak without metaphor, which alone is copious and standard. Much is published, but little printed. The rays which stream through the shutter will no longer be remembered when the shutter is wholly removed. No method nor discipline can supersede the discipline of being forever on the alert. What is the course of history, or philosophy, or poetry, no matter how well selected, or the best society, or the most admirable routine of life, compared with the discipline of looking always at what is to be seen? Read your fate, see what is before you, and walk on into futurity.”
–Thoreau – Walden (Emphasis mine)
“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.”
–1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (ESV)
Thoreau is, if not a Christian, then Christianised. He sees, however, a lot of purpose in merely living and learning from life, by direct experience. He doesn’t seem to have a huge theological concern with this approach, but certainly being watchful and alert has it’s value. Whether to grow in our admiration of God via his handiwork, or to set our minds to pondering the way people work, with the interest of keeping the church faithful and reaching others with God’s grace, being watchful is something we (or perhaps just I) need to be better at.