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  • Henry Schoenfield

Don't go back to sleep

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you. Don’t go back to sleep. You must ask for what you really want. Don’t go back to sleep. People are going back and forth across the doorsill where the two worlds touch. The door is round and open. Don’t go back to sleep.

Mewlana Jalaluddin Rumi

The day calls for our wakefulness — for our sober awareness and attention — to the work that is ours to do today — to the suffering that we hold in ourselves, to the suffering in the world (as if these were two when they are really one). The day calls for us to be awake and ready, alert, and watchful.

And yet, how easy it is for us to go back to sleep! How easy it is to hit the snooze button — on our alarm clocks and on our lives. How easy it is for us to live our days in a drowsy, half-aware/half-asleep state.

Often we may find ourselves lulled back to sleep in our desire — for the way that things were, for the way that we want them to be. We may find ourselves lulled back to sleep by our need for power, influence, control, relevance. We may even find ourselves lulled back to sleep by the urge to “find our inner peace” — to shut out the troubles of the world and drop into a place of inner bliss that ignores reality.

A few days ago, I was driving to one of the state forests nearby to go for a hike. In my mind, I was already in the woods. As I drove, I drifted to notice a barbershop on the block — wondering if they were still there, if they were still open.

In a start, I came back to presence just in time to slam on my brakes and narrowly avoid hitting the car in from of me who had stopped to let a family cross the street.

Going back to sleep can be that fast, that easy.

What do you want to be awake to this day? What is the work that is yours to do — the work that can only be done from sober awareness? How might you be tempted to be drawn back to sleep?

As Rumi says, “The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you. Don’t go back to sleep.”

And so we pray:

Living One, watchful and waiting in this moment of sober awareness — call us back to presence. Help us to live this day awake and aware to all that you are asking of us this day to all that you are wanting to reveal to us and through us if we can but remain awake — to your movements in us and through us, your action in the world. For it is in the name of your watchful, loving awareness that I make this prayer. Amen.

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