“Let me respectfully remind you, life and death, are of supreme importance. Time swiftly passes by and opportunity is lost. Each of us should strive to awaken. Awaken! Take heed. Do not squander your life.” --The Evening Gatha, Zen Buddhism
What will it take to wake you up?
To oversleep and then miss an important engagement or appointment is one of my biggest fears. I’ve got a big sermon to preach in the morning or an extra early flight or a pre-sunrise commitment. Then I just can’t risk snoozing through. Some folks are blessed with an internal alarm clock which wakes them up, no worries. They somehow program a wake up time into their subconscious before sleep and then miraculously they wake right up on time.
Not me. I sleep like the dead, like a rock, like a dead rock. I need a wake up call, a clanging bell, an annoying buzzer, an aural kick in the pants to get me up and out the door. To just wake me up. This often means setting not one but two alarm clocks—one next to the bed and the other on the farthest side of the room—whenever I really need to wake up. Otherwise? Well, I might just sleep through.
To wake right up or to snooze away, and not just in bed but in life too. Sometimes we all need a spiritual wake up call. These are the sharply realized moments, the starkly clear seconds, the haunting “A Ha!” revelations when life slows down, suddenly clarifies for us what really matters. Whom we love. What is finally important. What we cherish. How life is such a fragile and tender gift from our Creator.
And so the doctor gives us the news and our spirits soar or sink. The phone rings at 3 a.m. and we dread answering it. We watch through tear-filled eyes our child on his wedding day and our hearts burst with gratitude. We narrowly escape a car accident and as our ticker thumps away, we thank God we are o.k. We sit in church and mourn a loved one and weep at all the things the departed will now never, ever get to do. We hold our newborn for the first time and she awakens in us the amazing mystery of existence.
We wake up.
Or we just continue to spiritually sleep, oversleep even, ZZZZZ away as life passes us by in all its wonder and beauty. Then we imagine it is our work that really matters the most and so we lose time with loved ones for that oh so crucial deal or that cell phone call we just have to answer. We live for the drama of life, get mired in the petty, the meaningless, the fleeting, the trivial, the need to always be right. We waste time immersed in technology, texting away, surfing along in a virtual world while the real world unfolds right before us and we fail to see it. We mistake wealth and money for meaning, hold on to our treasure and stuff so tightly that we convince ourselves we can really take it all with us and cram it into the coffin. We sleepwalk through life. And then we get a wake up call.
Or we wake up, no call necessary. Wake up and decide to take this one day, freely and generously been given to us by God, and not waste one second. Wake up to the folks in life who need our love, right now. Wake up to the needs of others, next door and far away, and then do something to help. Wake up to hot coffee and sultry spring mornings and birds singing and hugs from the kids and see all these little miracles as precious. Wake up to passion and purpose and faith. The choice is finally ours. To stay in bed or to get up.
What will it take to wake you up?