“My father says the whole world’s asleep. Everybody you know, everybody you see, everybody you talk to. He says only a few people are awake. And they live in a state of constant total amazement.”
These words, spoken by the character Patricia in Joe Versus the Volcano, have always stuck with me. Every time I hear them or think about them, they make me want to be one of the “awake” people. I mean, who wouldn’t? What’s not to love about being constantly amazed and wonder struck?
I can remember the feeling of intense wonder I had as a child whenever I would see something amazing, big, colorful, or otherwise awesome. It seems like as we get older, we feel that sort of thing less and less. Maybe it’s that as time moves on, we get accustomed to more of the things that once amazed us. Maybe it’s that we get so busy and engrossed in what we’re doing that we just forget to look around at the colors of spring and fall, or at the sunset, or at those other things that would still amaze us if we just stopped to look at them.
Or maybe, for some reason, we go to sleep as we grow up.
I live in a town that is exceptionally sleepy. You can feel it in the spiritual/religious climate here; there’s a sense of complacency and self-satisfaction prevalent through the churches–a lack of hunger. That’s a big part of it, but you can feel it in many other ways. The complacency here sort of fills the atmosphere; sometimes it feels so thick that it seems like you could wave a knife in the air and cut through it like butter. You can see it in the glazed eyes of people staggering through their day-to-day routines like so many zombies; you can hear it in their lackluster voices. Boredom. Tasks done mindlessly and with utter mediocrity, like they just don’t care–like there is no reason to care. Like nothing could ever excite them. Like you could set their pants on fire and they would lazily ask if anyone else smelled smoke.
My son The Director has worked part-time since he was 15 years old, starting in a grocery store. He enjoyed his jobs, at least for awhile; but he noticed something that has never left him. He saw people there who were caught in the rut of spending day after day doing a job they tolerated at best and hated at worst. Sometimes he’d hear the “career employees” talk about dreams they used to have when they were younger, dreams long put to rest by “real life”. (And then these people would try and talk him into becoming one of them!) I saw these experiences form in The Director a fierce determination not to settle, not to get caught in the rut of complacency–to live his life doing what he loves. Even if it isn’t the path of least resistance…he wants to live his life awake. I think that attitude is going to make him very successful in the long run, and in fact it inspires me.
When I talk about the complacency in my town, it isn’t that I’m standing in judgment, because I have no right to. I see this as sort of a sickness…one that is contagious. As much as I have fought it off over the years, and as much as it annoys me to see it in other people…in some ways I am surprised at the ways I have succumbed to the atmosphere–how asleep I have been.
I say this, because apparently I am starting to wake up.
There have been numerous little events in the past few weeks–something I read, or hear someone say, or a passing thought, or a song lyric, or anything at all–that have stirred things in my soul that have been dormant for awhile. It’s like being reminded of something long forgotten–tools in the toolbox that you forgot you had, gifts sitting on the shelf due to lack of opportunity (or appreciation)…passion restored, desire revived, hope renewed, dreams rekindled. A whisper of the wonder I knew as a child, and a fresh desire to live in the moment.
It’s too early to call it a personal revival. It’s just that I am becoming aware of a deep stirring in my soul, a shift. I am getting glimpses of potential that I should not give up on, glimpses of what was, that could be again–only better. Because even while I was sleeping–God never was. During my slumber, God was unfettering me.
And I don’t think it’s just about a shift in ministry; it’s about a shift in worldview. I’m with The Director on this. I know I could never be satisfied with mediocrity, with playing it safe. I don’t know what it’s all going to look like, but I do know I don’t want to miss a thing. Whatever God has in store, I want to be wide awake to see it.