New Awakening: A Precious Gift

In the opening round of posts I have compared our daily routine of waking up to a new day to the ways in which we become aware of the new Awakening in which we are living. I want to turn to writing about the signs that we are in such a time. But today I bring the opening round of posts to an end by noting that waking up to a new day is a precious gift.

I have learned this particularly from my African-American friends who so often include in their praying words like “Thank you God for waking me up this morning.” Their spirituality ignites gratitude, moving them to see that each new day is a gift filled with opportunity.

Writing these words has reminded me of the ancient Chinese story of the person who approached a sage with a bird in his hand. He asked the sage, “Is this bird alive or dead?” The sage replied, “The bird is as you wish it to be.”

I need to have this view. I too easily become “fallen-world focused,” awakening to a new day with a dull head and a troubled soul. In that spirit foreboding can easily eclipse faith, and I know better than to start my day facing in the wrong direction. Instead, I must train myself in godliness that forms me in gratitude, saying as I open my eyes, “Thank you God for waking me up this morning.”

Applying this to the new Awakening, I am learning from the saints (ancient and modern) that I must recognize the new Awakening as a precious gift. I must enter each new day of it with gratitude, and seize the opportunities to overcome evil with good.

Several years ago, Richard Rohr wrote that one of the formative phrases we need to live by is, “Yes, and…” [1]  That is, we acknowledge the realities we face (including the evil and challenges), but we do not stop there. We say, “and….” We say, “Nevertheless…” [2] It is in the “and” phase where we discern that the new Awakening includes God’s invitation to us to be instruments of God’s peace moving everyone and everything increasingly into the new creation. This contemplative action puts us in sync with the plan of God to unite all things in heaven and on earth in Christ (Ephesians 1:9-10).

So too, the new Awakening is alive or dead in us depending on how we see it, and how we intend to live in it. Those who choose to hate, exclude, and divide squeeze the life out of the bird. Those who love, include, and unite open their hand and let the bird take flight. It is what the hymn describes as “having done with lesser things.” [3] Waking up each day gives us the opportunity to do this. Recognizing we are in a time of new Awakening does too.

[1] Richard Rohr, ‘Yes, And’ (Franciscan Media, 2013).

[2] I write about the importance of “nevertheless” spirituality in my book, ‘Talking in the Dark: Praying When Life Doesn’t Make Sense (Upper Room Books, 2007).

[3] “Rise Up O Men of God”

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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