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  • Writer's pictureDoug Weiss

Awakening


Some mornings when I awaken, the grip of the night’s dreams and thoughts seem more real to me than the day that lies ahead. The feeling soon passes, as I survey the inevitable small aches and pains that have gathered around me over the years. I don’t mind, I am alive and another day awaits.

That nagging feeling of unreality which accompanies my waking is a reminder to me that the world I view as real is just one of many possible realities that my mind is free to explore when freed from daily cares and restless preoccupations. Try as I might, though, I can never quite capture the thoughts and feelings that seemed so engaging moments before in that twilight period before my personal dawn, but I cannot shake the sense that they were important and revealing of a truth or many truths. As I come fully awake, those misty thoughts filled with signs and portents dissipate and their significance is lost to me.

Other awakenings that have occurred in my life have persisted, and they have revealed deep and lasting truths. You may suspect that I am making reference to my faith, and that is partly so. But before I go there, let me digress a bit. You need to know by way of context that I am not a religious person. That may strike you as odd if you are a frequent reader of my posts, but it is nevertheless true. When it comes to religion I was feral. Raised without any real guidance or emphasis and very infrequent mention of any higher being. Childhood friends seemed more secure in their knowledge and acceptance of a being called God. I was a rationalist and a humanist at best, a sceptic at worst.

In the new and old Testaments we read that God reveals himself, as he did to Moses and Jacob, and as Jesus did to his disciples. It is an interesting choice of words. God does not simply manifest, pop out of nowhere, he reveals himself. That suggests he has been there all along but could not be seen until a time and place of his choosing. The cloak of invisibility is pulled back and suddenly, God is revealed. From the ancient Greek, we call this an epiphany. By the way, this particular magic trick is one that almost every faith suggests in much the same language.

So, you might think that God revealed himself to me and that is the foundation of my faith. Well you would be correct, but not in the way you think. What he did not do—and I am inclined to believe he will never do, is reveal himself through some super natural manifestation. I do not see or hear him, I cannot reach out and touch the hem of his garments (assuming he wears any), and in fact I have no idea what God looks like, or what form he might take. I call him a he because that is my sense of him—our father—but it is only a useful convention that my human brain substitutes for the inexplicable. However, I know him, or at least I know what he has revealed to me.

So, how did he do that? Well that is the point of this post. He awakened me. It wasn’t abrupt, like the wakening I do each morning. It has taken nearly 70 years so far, and I am still not fully awake. It began in college and fitfully in the years that followed. I became interested in why people prayed, went to church, called upon this being called God. I was not a believer, but I was curious. So I read. The bible of course—many times, and other books by theologians and secular authors. Some I admired, like C.S. Lewis for his rational persistence. Others for their passion. But none of these books or arguments convinced me that God existed much less that he sought a personal relationship with me. In fact, my reading raised more question and doubt than it did conviction.

In the end, life was my teacher. Meditation, observation, and experience combined to move me in a consistent direction as I stumbled along thinking I was entirely in charge of myself and all that happened around me. Of course, whether you believe in a God or not, the idea that everything in the world happens because or in reaction to us is supremely narcissistic. Instead, I began to see that decisions I made, challenges I rose to or avoided, adversity and victory were not what they seemed to be on the face of it. I began to understand that there were other forces at work and that I could resist them or harness them but I could not deny their existence.

Like most humans I have had my share of trouble and pain—mostly self-inflicted. As I grew in understanding, I recognized that when I acted in accordance with that inner compass, the voice, if you will, that spoke to me—the way was smoother and the victories sweeter. When I was willful and stubborn and knowingly went my own way, things were tougher and often did not turn out as I had wished. As I warily and slowly accepted that there was something to this, I sought out people I knew who seemed to have their act together—who seemed to know something I was just learning. Guess what? They were all people of faith. Not all Christians, not all religious, but all people who believed in a God, and not just any God, but one with whom they had a present and tangible relationship.

This was God revealing himself to me—as a reflection through others’ eyes. But I still was not there. It would take many more years, hardships and celebrations before I was comfortable with letting God show himself to me. I have lived many lives already in this one earthly lifetime. Perhaps there will be more to come, perhaps not in this world. That part has not been revealed but I know what comes next, regardless.

I do not fear death, but I do not welcome it. It will take care of itself when the time comes. I have experienced death, however. The death of my parents, my spouse, family members, and dear friends. These are painful, because I miss those I can no longer be with in this world. But I am certain I will see them again. As a human, I am limited in my ability to perceive anything beyond what my senses reveal. When I am with God, in his presence allowing him to show me himself through his actions, through his creatures and through his love I have no doubts, only certainty that as real as this world seems to me now, there is another that lies just beyond my reach. When I fully awaken, I know it’s going to be amazing.


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