One of the greatest challenges facing followers of Christ today is the challenge of staying spiritually awake. I believe it is the core component to cultivating a beautiful life in Christ. Personally, when I strip away all the layers, conflicts and issues I face, staying spiritually awake–yes, alive and aware to the living, loving presence of God–this is the great challenge to my spiritual life in Christ. I recently wrote about my new favorite book, An Unhurried Life by Alan Fadling. In his remarkable first book, Alan quotes from another favorite author of mine, Richard Rohr from The Naked Now. This section about staying spiritually awake I found particularly helpful. I hope you find the following thoughts encouraging as well…
Alan notes that Richard Rohr used a number of phrases to describe the nature of contemplation, of staying spiritually awake. Rohr’s words are in bold print, with Alan’s thoughts following. To stay spiritually awake…
“I drop to a level deeper than the passing show.”
We’re tempted to call that “passing show” real life, but it isn’t really. All of the megaconcerns on the surface level are insignificant in light of the eternal reality God’s people know. Some things that have me incredibly worried here and now would not even register in my consciousness if I were more aware of the Father’s eternal kingdom. To gain that awareness–to be able to live my life on two planes–I can choose to deal with the realities at hand with continual prayer, with a mind and heart set on higher things, with an eternal perspective.
“I become the calm seer of my dramas from that level.”
Some of these descriptions sound like the work I’ve done in therapy where I recognize some of the childish and adolescent emotions within me, becoming separate enough from them to discern them and choose, instead, to live from a mature, adult perspective. I can experience a peace that does not reflect the stir of the surface, but comes from a deeper place.
“I watch myself compassionately from a little distance, almost as if the ‘myself’ is someone else–‘a corpse,’ as St. Francis put it.”
To “watch myself compassionately from a little distance” sounds so inviting. It would be dying to the “me” that has been misshapen in this God-disregarding world. I would learn to live less on autopilot. I would learn to care for those immature parts of myself that are anxious and fearful about life. I would make some space within where I could receive God’s affection and take it deeply in.
“I dis-identify with my own emotional noise, and no longer let it pull me here and there, up and down.”
My feelings, though real, aren’t to be my primary reality. My feelings are noisy, they are demanding, they are pushy–but they aren’t the last word. I need not be trapped in emotional noise. I don’t need to try to escape from my emotions or numb myself to them, but I can stop handling the reins of my life other to them. I can choose instead to live my life under the mighty yet gentle reign of Christ.
Alan offers so many wonderful thoughts here. I have picked up this one page several times to reread and reflect on the truth of what he writes. You can purchase An Unhurried Life from the Amazon affiliate link below.
Questions: Can you relate to Richard’s and Alan’s words here? What helps you stay spiritually awake?
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