– martin luther king jr.
what a week it’s been. a historic election that none of us will ever forget. a sense of hope & purpose & we-ness that hasn’t been felt in a long time by so many (i realize there are some that don’t feel that way and i understand, but the reality is that no one can deny that something big & powerful is really happening in our country with people coming together across race & socioeconomics & religion & all kinds of other ways like never before). i myself have been in a bit of a fog, lots happening around here with kids birthdays & refuge parties & crazy escobar chaos and so some of what happened last week is a bit of a delayed reaction for me, and i am just catching up. we finally watched obama’s acceptance speech last night (and mccain’s concession speech as well) and i definitely continue to feel this wonderful sense of excitement about “what could be.”
i know there are so many out there who say that we aren’t supposed to put our hope in a person but solely in God. i agree with them on one level; i am one of the most anti-hero-worship people i know. i do not worship barack obama. i am glad he became our president for all kinds of reasons, but i do not put my hope in him. what i do believe, however, is that for whatever reason something is happening in the hearts of people that can’t be ignored, something beautiful, powerful, hopeful, and risky & scary, too. you see, i think people are actually “waking up.” a stirring is happening, a rumbling, a deep desire for change & equality & diversity & caring for the poor and marginalized & loving our neighbor for reals & coming together in true community & all kinds of other in-the-image-of-God ways.
while there are many out there who have been waking up for a long time, there are also others who have maybe been sleeping for a while, settling for the status quo, letting the tides wash them in and out and not really believing that something might ever shift. maybe a little stuck, paralyzed. maybe a little (or a lot) hopeless. maybe just sure that any real change in their lives, in their churches, in the world, is just too complicated and will require way too much work so why even bother. oh it is so easy to live there. i know it well, that feeling of seeing a hill ahead and having that sense of “there’s no way around this so let’s just forget it now before we even take one step toward it.” so we go back to sleep. the dreams, desires, hopes get re-buried, lying dormant somewhere in the crevices of our heart and we continue our slumber, hoping that they won’t pop back up and cause us more trouble again.
but i think God is in the wake-up business. i think what many are experiencing right now in response to the nation’s election is more than just “obama hype” (although i am sure that some of that is in there). i personally think it is something deeper, a desire for community, change, voice, hope, diversity & unity that God created in people from the very beginning. i think this stirring just happens right now to be reflected in politics instead of the church, that’s all. and personally i am so excited that this awakening is happening in such a tangible way for so many. i think the question that i am asking myself and i hope that others are asking, too, is “what is God waking up in my heart?” is it a call to step into something i’m afraid to step into? is it a call to relationship? healing? community? serving? moving? leading? changing? waiting? is it clear or is it fuzzy? how can i participate in the movement of God in my own life, my own family, my own community? i know people are all over the map on this one, but i do honestly hope that in this next season we become more and more in tune to what God might be waking up inside of us and be willing to act on it. take the risk. step out into some weird and wild wilderness and give something a try no matter how stupid it might feel. do something rather than nothing. grab someone else’s hand and say “i need you to help me stay awake so i don’t let this idea, dream, hope pass me by.”
in all of us is a tendency toward the path of least resistance. and that path will usually lead us to status quo, stagnancy, staying-the-same-because-at-least-we-know-what-it’s-like-here. i think that’s why so many people stay in jobs they don’t like, churches they are bored in, and circumstances that are safe and predictable no matter how unfulfilling. real change takes some pretty serious energy & i am just wondering how many of us, when we are really honest, struggle with believing that God will take good care of us if we step out into the wild unknown & risk our hearts to hope? i know that i sometimes feel that way, no doubt. but one thing i am clinging to, maybe more than ever before, is that life is short. and i want to know that in whatever time God gave me that i was a person who did my best to stay awake & participate in this one short life i was gifted with. i do believe the world gets changed one little life at a time & that the kingdom isn’t something that is impossible to taste, experience, participate in in the here-and-now. it is right before me. right before you. i want to keep waking up to be part of it.
early last year, my friend sage gave me this rumi poem that always lingers:
For years copying other people, I tried to know myself
from within I couldn’t decide what to do.
Unable to see, I heard my name called
and then I walked outside
the breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you
don’t go back to sleep.
you must ask for what you really want
don’t go back to sleep.
people are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
the door is round and open.
don’t go back to sleep.
he had given it to a friend with a bottle of no-doze (i have to admit, it brought back some college flashbacks of those all-nighters & my use of legalized speed). but in all honesty, i think if i had a little gift to give us right now when it comes to any form of “awakening” that God might be stirring up in us, it would be a bottle of no-doze, a reminder to not go back to sleep. to keep opening our minds, our hearts, our hands, our feet, our lives to what could be, whatever that looks like for each one of us, individually, corporately. i’d love to hear some of your thoughts.