I recall a time when I had one of the most gracious, wise, and spiritually centered professors for class in my undergraduate program.
I slept through 90% of his classes.
I remember having a friend who had never finished the movie Braveheart - he had never seen the end, the redemptive and beautiful end.
He fell asleep halfway through every single time.
Life is exhausting, I get it. We work too much, we do too much, we are levitating both spiritually and physically on a cloud of busyness that is both consuming and destructive as well as productive and helpful.
It makes sense that Dallas Willard once said the best way to grow was to "Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life."
Hurry induces exhaustion. Exhaustion forces our still-swollen lids over our eyes and we drift off at times when life cries for our attention.
Jesus takes Peter, James and John to a mountainside to pray. In the middle, Jesus is transformed into blinding white heaven-stuff, right before their eyes. I have read this story before, but I caught this one particular detail for the first time today:
"Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him." (Luke 9:30-32, NIV)
They were sleepy. In the presence of the thin layer of divine and human worlds being shredded, in the presence of Moses and Elijah showing up and giving Jesus' plan for redemption the Old Testament Messianic thumbs up, and in the presence of a moment out of the course of normal time, the disciples were fighting off a nap.
Our language as Christians sometimes kills us -
We invite the Spirit to be present when Jesus promised He was in us and with us at all times (John 14:16-17). We ask God to be present when every vapor of the oxygen we breathe is screaming divinity at full volume.
Instead of asking for these things, maybe we'd be better off asking God to help us stay awake. To pull back our drooping lids, weakened by our own furious pace, so that we wouldn't miss the footprints of the holy that practical track over us every moment of every day.
Two very specific practices that help with this are the Ignatian Examen and the discipline of journaling. What if we closed each day celebrating (either in prayer or writing or both) where God was present in our life that day, where we missed it entirely, and where God may be heading in the future?
Peter, James and John woke up just in time to see the cloud covering them - obscuring their vision but not their hearing - and then the voice was everywhere and nowhere all at once:
"This is my son, whom I have chosen, listen to Him." (Luke 9:34)
Lord, keep us awake. Help us to be open and listening to hear you declare that your Son is moving among us - which He's always doing - and instead of shrugging and rolling over we might roll out the blanket and sit on it and welcome the presence that has never been absent.