Our new rescue pup, MayBelle, is a delight and a handful. Although she’s supposedly 4 years old, she is in many ways experiencing puppyhood with us. Like a puppy, she goes from wild to zonked out. The pic here caught her sincere question: “Do I really have to wake up now?”
I wonder if that’s a question for all of us, along our way. Do I really have to wake up now? Can’t I sleep through this? Sometimes in our lives, for many reasons, we may deliberately elect to keep sleeping. Perhaps more often, we may have habits which anesthesize us: mindless activity, lots of TV or video, looping and repetitive thought patterns, addictions of various types, aggression in word or deed, even relationships where we’ve given over our freedom and simply echo another.
Every major world religion speaks of waking up (in some form) as entry to spiritual practice and fullness, integrity of vision and action. Most of us who name ourselves disciples don’t wake up just once. We are going along – really committed to our journey, to deepening faith, to living what we profess – and discover, often to our chagrin, that we have stumbled upon yet another way we resist or zone out or shirk freedom or live less than we truly desire. Whether it is due to fear, pain, lukewarmness, laziness, pride, regret,or listening to voices that lie to us about who we truly are…. We are nodding off – again.
The waking up we are invited to requires our persistence, certainly, but more – a huge helping of grace accepted and leaned upon. And a looking and listening in the right direction.
If we truly want to stay awake (hmmm…didn’t Jesus advise that?), the best way is to take a shortcut. Look to Jesus. Remember the Creator of all is in relationship with us personally. Listen to the Spirit, Companion-Dweller, wondrously living and forming us and praying for and with us from within. And lean on this Trinity to be our alarm clock. Stop doing it on our own steam. Let God be our ongoing wake up call, just by confiding always, leaning heavily, asking for the love and help always available to all of us.
St. Therese of Lisieux referred to Jesus as her elevator who lifted her, as she was unable. She – like many saints – rejoiced in being small. It showed God’s tender faithfulness in reaching into their littleness. (“For God has looked with favor on his lowly servant” – Luke, Magnificat.) If we acknowledge our attachment to sleepiness, our fears, our paralysis, our littleness, God will meet us there. In fact God already does, we just forget and need to be re-minded (metanoia – no worries, also God’s work in us).
Do I really have to wake up now? Absolutely not. But if we do ask this grace to wake and stay awake – and let God’s great love (grace) help us in the middle of our patterns and experiences and thoughts that keep us captive sleepers – our perspective, words, values, decisions may change. We will find the courage directly from the source of our life and love, letting go of our inabilities and leaning in to God’s great sufficiency. Then, a prayer typed up for me by a young student decades ago will not only make sense, but have the wings to carry us.
Lord, I am at the end of all my resources. Child, you are just at the beginning of mine!
What joy and comfort! Believing and KNOWING this to be true, we can be in each moment awake, happily humble, with abundance to share.
These words will not only make sense, but circle us with truth we can live in and from:
The day of my spiritual awakening was the day I saw – and knew I saw – all things in God and God in all things.
– Mechtild of Magdeburg
And yes, MayBelle loves living “awake” too!