Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Living Alive

I went to a concert with friends the other night, and it woke me up. Laughter came easily as I broke free from my usual sleep-walk through mundane jobs and roles: it felt good to be alive, and I wondered how to hold onto the feeling.
 
Should I quit my job? Had selling out to financial stability and the soul-numbing work of filing finally caught up with me? Could I keep feeling alive, if I immersed myself in the arts again?

But even when my whole life was rehearsal and performing, there were days when I couldn't think to put one foot in front of the other and show up at morning technique class.

Do I try to re-create this night every day? Order season tickets to every local company, leave the kids with a sitter, go out to eat with friends, stay up late to wake up early.

Something flickered that night, when we all came together, and I mistakenly thought it was just my shiny collection of perpetually happy friends living perfect, care-free lives.
 
I wanted to run away from my family. I didn't think I'd miss them. I know they'd miss me, but Wally's a good dad. And a good dad with two young, good kids? They'd get another better mom soon.

I wanted to steal my friends' copyrights on life, duplicate myself to whatever they were doing. Get back in shape, join a company, or start my own, and just do free performances in the park all the time, making art accessible to the world. Gah, it's perfect.

But then there'd be the cold nights, the world as my dance critic, and a pile of unpaid citations for street performing without a permit. And I know I'd end up missing Wally and the kids.
 
I'm so focused on the details of that night, the things that made me feel alive -- a road trip, a concert, a dinner out -- that I overlook other happenings of the night: my friends' conversational testimonies of ER visits, frustrations at work, the journey of a loved one's long-term recovery.

I realize that they're not alive all the time either. And we must have stumbled on something together that woke us all up, at once. 

As a fan of conspiracy theories and sci-fi, I can only conclude we were visited by some other-worldly ghost with the strange and wonderful gift of awakening humans to a world bigger than the doldrums of every day life.

As a fan of a God who will take on human form, bend the laws of nature, weep with those who sorrow, and wait with us when we're just not quite ready, I can only conclude we were visited by the Holy Spirit.

I'm inclined to chase down the highs of life, seeking out the next great thrill, longing for the experience of admiration, achievement, affirmation. Yet even as things on those to-do lists are checked off, I still find myself wandering these doldrums of thoughtless existence.

May the unusual Spirit, who found us as freely in a loud and crowded IHOP as He would in a still, quiet chapel, come visit us all, to wake us up, to laugh, to love, to care, to live.

Come, Holy Spirit!  Fill the hearts of your faithful, and enkindle in us the fire of Your love.  Send forth Your Spirit, and we shall be created, and you will renew the face of the earth.  Amen.


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