Wake Up Call

Have you ever wondered why we have "alarm" clocks to wake us? In order to move out of a place of sleep, we usually need something severe to cause a more conscious state. It would be more enjoyable if we could easily wake up from a deep sleep, but those other tools - soft music, a gentle touch - often encourage only a turn-over to continue the sleep.

It's not much different when it comes to spiritually waking up. To awaken, to become more aware of and attentive to the voice of God, doesn't come easy. For this particular week, Holy Week, we have our example. After the Last Supper, Jesus moves to the Garden of Gethsemane where he cries out to God. During that long night, he returns to the disciples three times essentially asking them, "Can't you stay awake?" Finally, he just lets them sleep. Staying awake is not easy.

Jesus extends an invitation for the disciples to join him. In the darkness and suffering of the Garden, he longs to be in relationship with them. Yet as he reflects, "the spirit is willing, but the body is weak," he extends grace. Granted, the disciples are confused and fearful, distracted by their own limitations. It's easier to numb those emotions in the unknown. It's easier to stay asleep.

Maybe that's why we need an "alarm" clock during this Holy Week. Over the last six weeks of Lent, we've symbolically hungered and thirsted in our hope to encounter the living God. Could that be our way to stay awake? With a parched mouth and rumbling stomach, the bodily sensations create an attention to what's present. Or do we need to sit alongside Jesus in the suffering? Would we be any different than the disciples, trying to stay awake in the unknown, especially in fear and confusion? Could suffering be a portal by which we have a wake-up call to what's important in life?

There are ways to wake up to God's whisper. Throughout his life, Jesus shows us ways to be present to God, experiencing the power and peace of the Father's abiding presence. Over and over again, we see Jesus engaged in an ongoing dialogue with his Father through a relationship of responsiveness. Even in that dark night of the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus continues in conversation, "relearning surrender" as one contemplative writer suggests. Perhaps that's part of the wake-up call, re-learning, re-engaging, re-storing the part of ourselves that can attend to God's call in our life. While we can't do it on our own, we can lean into the mystery of God's desire for us through our responsiveness.

Or as Mary Magdalen experienced, it is recognizing Jesus as he calls her name, "Mary," in the Garden Tomb. He invites her, as he invites all of us, to be in relationship with him, to remember him. God continues to long to be with us. He won't force us. He invites us.

What is my wake-up call?

Post by Mary Pandiani


Mary Pandiani

Spiritual Director/Parish Practitioner