Thursday, June 16, 2011

Are You Awake?

In this PLPT Guest Post, Pastor/Professor Lawrence Ware reminds us to stop doing and start living.


Life is busy. We are in this seemingly never ending race. We chase the American Dream. We chase happiness. We cannot sit still long enough to enjoy much of what we accomplish—we are too busy thinking about something else. We think about vacation while at work. We think about work while on vacation. We text friends while with our kids. We watch TV while eating dinner.

Death by multi tasking.

One of my favorite plays is entitled Our Town by Thornton Wilder. The play takes place in a small town at the turn of the twentieth century. In the final act, a young girl named Emily dies giving birth, and she finds herself in the graveyard with other people from town who are recently deceased. She learns that she is allowed to relive a single day from her living life, and she decides to relive her twelfth birthday.

Emily is overwhelmed by the beauty of everything she sees. “I love you all, everything—I cannot look at things hard enough,” she says. But soon she is saddened because she realizes that the living do not see what she sees. All that she encounters are too caught up in the business of their life—they do not really look at one another. In frustration with her mother for being busy planning her birthday party, but not really giving her any attention, Emily cries: “Oh, Mama, just look at me one minute as though you really saw me.”

Sadly, her mother is too busy.

This is an analogy for how we live our lives. We are too busy being busy that we fail to see and experience what is around us. J. de Caussade once said: “The present moment holds infinite riches beyond your wildest dreams, but you will only enjoy them to the extent of your awareness of them.”

Please, wake up.

Realize that each day could be your last. Savor your cup of coffee. Notice the sunset. Enjoy the sounds of the rain pattering upon your window—understanding that without this rain we all perish— instead of complaining about how it ruins your plans.

Look at your children. No, really look at them. They grow so fast. Soon you will not recognize them. You will not know what happened or how time went by so fast.

I like to put little sticky notes around my office and home with the phrase: ARE YOU AWAKE? It helps me to realize that there is beauty all around me; I only need to awaken myself to it.

Understand that God’s fingerprints are everywhere. You only need to be sensitive to seeing them.

Are you awake?

Lawrence Ware is lecturing professor of philosophy at Oklahoma State University and Pastor of Christian Education at Prospect Church. He writes for Tikkun and Religion Dispatchers all while living in Oklahoma City with his wife and sons.

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5 comments:

♥ CG ♥ said...

Wow...had to hold back the tears on this one. I've been concerned for a while now that I've become so consumed by multi-tasking that it's slowly diminishing my capability to stop and enjoy the seemingly little things in life. The ones that transport me back to a time when days were not so focused on getting things done, but creating and finding new things to get into. I so miss it, but will dedicate myself to reclaiming it. Excellent post!

jessj said...

I knew just from the title I was going to love it. Then I saw that Pastor (Dr.?) Ware wrote it and I knew *again* that I was going.to.love.it.
I loved it.
I've been studying Tao (the philosophy not the religion) for about 6 months now and its all rooted in simplicity. Appreciating the present moment and understanding the possibility of everything. The art of creating space largely comes from concentrated attention. Doing one thing well until completion, and not dividing energy so that many things get done sub-par-ly. *sigh* This post just made me remember everything I've been reading. Namely #1 of my new life rules:
1. be present
2. tell the truth
3. let go of the consequences of telling the truth.

Kim Jackson said...

This post itself urged me to be aware and to remember to be present in the moment--which is something I've been working on for a while. I love the idea of the sticky note!

However, Jess, your comment above was pretty much a sucker punch to the gut (a much needed one). I've recently revealed some truths that I've been holding secret for about 25 years now....and I'm terrified of the consequences. I have to learn to them go, and understand that this situation is much bigger than me. Thank you so much for your comment!

NinaG said...

Thank you Pastor Ware for your post and Jess for you comment. I feel like lately I've noticed how my thoughts seem to be in overdrive - it's tough to sleep, get thoughts out effectively and follow through with things; so I'm grateful to both of you for your words.

Danny Cardwell said...

I first heard of Pastor Ware while listening to the "Partially Examined Life" podcast. He gave a brilliant treatment of the philosophical lessons of racial oppression.

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