My view of life is changing. Not as fast as I would like it, but it is changing. Just as the moments that reduce me to tears are coming more often (see Undone Again), so are the moments that fill me with joy, wonder, and gratitude. Things that initially seem normal or unremarkable, in an instant can become miraculous, beautiful, and awe inspiring. There are moments, more and more of late, when Life itself comes into focus as beautiful and brilliant, a gift to be savored and cherished, lived with abandon, intensity, and gratitude. A good friend of mine says that in these moments we are "Wide Awake".
Sometimes I get frustrated with myself that I "sleep" so much. How in the world did I get to the place where I walk around this world with anything other than wide-eyed amazement? I am embarrassed that for large stretches of life I have fallen into thinking that I know what's coming, or how things "work". Life becomes ordinary, as if because I know a little biology, chemistry, physics and even less psychology, I can somehow be bored, bothered, or tired of the whole thing. The beauty and complexity of every person around me disappears behind a fog of..., something I cant even describe. I forget the mystery and miracle that is this life. Worries, frustrations, good things, and the daily routine produce in me something that leads to a loss of clarity, a loss of appreciation for ... everything.
I am even more embarrassed at my inability to stay "wide awake", after I have caught a glimpse of all of this. It seems it is in some way not "up to me" to stay wide awake. "The voice" I have mentioned before is the thing that can awaken me from my sleep. It comes in different forms, at different times. Sometimes it comes to me through music, but it is most clear to me when it comes straight from another person. I heard it again this week.
We have a new ritual at our house. I am not sure who has enjoyed it the most. We all love it. Each night, our boys Clayton (9), Davis (7), and Eli (4) climb into Davis' bed. Holly and I come up to tell them goodnight and tuck them in or read them a story. Before they settle down into bed we wrestle. All five of us pile on the bed, half "wrestling" and half "tickling". Arms and legs, yells and giggles are everywhere. Holly is especially good at finding the right spot to get each one giggling non-stop.
One might think I hear the voice in the midst of this, and one would be correct. But the voice is loudest and clearest for me at the very moment that Eli has had as much tickling, giggling, piling on, and smashing as he can take. From the bottom of the pile and the top of his lungs comes his southern draw shouting TIME OUT, TIME OUT! The rest of us stop and laugh even harder until we can compose ourselves at which point, Eli says... "Change Spots, Change Places". We then jump back in until the next time when he can't take it anymore, and the beautiful, ridiculous process is repeated. The first time I heard Eli, I knew it was the voice. I knew immediately that I was in the middle of something beautiful, something sacred, something very, very good. The hearts, spirits, and bodies of the five of us tangled, tickling, and laughing is somehow so much more.
This is the life we have been given. These are the days we share. This isn't a trial run. It isn't a dress rehearsal for the real life that is coming sometime. It is life. There is something deeply significant going on here, right in the middle of school work, soccer practice, teeth brushing, dog feeding, Wii playing, errand running, etc. Eli's joyful cry for a timeout, is a call to me. His instructions to change, make me realize I am undergoing more than a change of view, I am undergoing a change of heart.
At times, I try to explain this away as part of a midlife crisis, or a normal progression in the developmental stages of a man. For all I know, it could be the early sign of some disease or mental disorder. I might be going crazy...
But the voice doesn't talk to me this way. The voice leaves no room for embarrassment, no room for frustration, no room for guilt, no room for fear. The voice tells me to continue down this path. I am encouraged to realize that it isn't up to me to change my heart. I take no credit for any change for the better. I haven't been very successful at pressuring, coercing, manipulating, or guilt-tripping my heart to change. The voice of my son, the voice of perfect love, brings about the change. There is no timetable, no deadline, no pressure.
There is a U2 song on their most recent album that plays in my head as I consider all of this. We have listened to it so much that each of the boys sings it from time to time. I don't know exactly what it means but the lyrics and the title make so much more sense to me in the midst of these thoughts. And when my boys sing it, again, I hear the voice.
I Know I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight.
A change of heart comes slow
It's not a hill, it's a mountain
As you start out the climb
Do you believe me, or are you doubting
We're gonna make it all the way to the light
But I know I'll go crazy if I don't go crazy tonight