Once You’re Awake

Have you ever noticed?  Once you wake up, it’s almost impossible to go back to sleep.  Now I’m not talking about when you wake up 30 minutes before the alarm clock and then burrow deeply into the pillows with the satisfied feeling that you have another glorious half-hour of hibernation.  I’m talking about a different kind of awakening, one that can be helpful at times and at other times cause great personal angst.  The awakening I’m talking about calls us to action, to service, to LOVE.

I suppose I cannot blame this awakening on the blog or on the Church of Mercy, the book by Pope Francis that started me on this journey back on Ash Wednesday.  After all, as a cradle Catholic, love of neighbor and the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy were part of the classroom rhetoric.  I could list and define and fill in the blanks on tests but I don’t know how well I was living it.

Living through life’s challenges and ups and downs has a way of providing an education that is truly priceless.  Every tear we shed, every merciful moment we share with another has the potential to break open our hardened hearts so that we may love God and others more deeply.  For everyone, the road to this awakening is different and for many, the stories are far too personal to share, but I assure you the journey to being fully AWAKE is never dull and paved with nuggets of wisdom collected along the way.

I know that I have a long way to go in living out my Baptismal call to be “priest, prophet and king.”  But I’m starting to really “get” the love of neighbor thing.  The see Christ in everyone thing…I’m really trying and am part of a faith community that challenges me to grow in this area.  But I know there’s so much need…so much more to do.  “…speak for your servant is listening.” (1 Samuel 3: 10)

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Cloudy Skies

“Daddy, is it going to thunder out tonight?”

“I don’t know, honey, maybe.”

This was the conversation I overheard when exiting a grocery store the other evening under a rather cloudy sky.  The moon was already out but the clouds were covering a good portion of it so it was just like a dim orb suspended in the grey early evening clouds.  For some reason, the short exchange of words between father and young son touched my heart, not so much the content but the gentle way the father replied. For some reason, that conversation under rather cloudy skies has stayed with me for the past two days.

What are some of the clouds that are filling your skies of late?  Perhaps clouds of fatigue or worry, anxiety or grief?  Clouds of never getting everything done or the ever-nebulous “fear of the unknown?”  Jesus reminds us, in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me all who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest.” (NASB).

So, don’t forget to reach out to the LORD when clouds fill your days.  And remember we walk with one another along life’s journey.  We don’t have to go it alone, friends.  But we may need to learn to speak up and ask for help when we need it.  Sometimes people who are really good at giving to others are really lousy at receiving the gift of assistance, myself included, but I’m slowly learning life’s lessons, one merciful encounter at a time.

What does our beloved Pope Francis have to say about all of this?

Brothers and sisters, let us not be closed to the newness that God wants to bring into our lives! Are we often weary, disheartened, and sad? Do we feel weighed down by our sins? Do we think that we won’t be able to cope? Let us not close our hearts, let us not lose confidence, let us never give up.

 Disney film character Dory sums it all up in three words:  “Just keep swimming.”

Sunny Mornings

A sunny day can be a beautiful thing.  When I drop off my teen before school each day, however, I must drive directly toward the rising sun to head home.  There’s a short time where the angle of the sun is practically blinding, even with the visor down and my dark sunglasses on.  It’s not for very long, but I have to use all my senses to be acutely aware of everything on the road and around me.  The sun, even in all its goodness, can prevent me from seeing that which I need to see.

Doing everything I can to avoid this “temporary blindness” prompts me to ask the following question:  Do I ever let seemingly good things in life blind me from seeing what those around me need? Am I really “seeing” what needs to be seen or am I just going through the motions?  To truly love God and others, don’t I need to be fully awake, fully “in tune” with all that surrounds me?

 “Let us try asking ourselves: Am I open to the action of the Holy Spirit? Do I pray to him to give me illumination, to make me more sensitive to God’s things? This is a prayer we must pray every day: “Holy Spirit, make my heart open to the word of God, make my heart open to goodness, make my heart open to the beauty of God every day.” ― Pope Francisthe Church of Mercy

Part of the conscious decision to be more PRESENT to those around me has forced me to evaluate each activity on my personal calendar.  Am I dedicating enough time to the people I live with and love?  Do I get enough sleep each night?  Am I making time each day to truly pray to the LORD?  Is Mass a priority on the weekends or am I just going through the motions there?  Am I being present to the people I encounter on a daily basis?  These can be tough questions but I believe that we constantly need to WAKE UP and let the SON shine in!