'Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroomb 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; 4but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a shout, "Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him." 7 Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps 8 The foolish said to the wise, "Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out." 9 But the wise replied, "No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves." 10 And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. 11 Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, "Lord, lord, open to us."12 But he replied, "Truly I tell you, I do not know you." 13 Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.
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. ~Rumi
The word "Buddha" means "one who woke up"Certainly, Advent is a time when we are encouraged to "stay awake" as we await the coming of God in our world. On the other hand, with the lengthening night (in the Northern Hemisphere, at least), it is increasingly hard for me, at least, to stay awake. If you're like me, you may be feeling tired, and somewhat overwhelmed by all that I have to do in this "season of light."
But, certainly, a part of staying awake is also dependent upon resting. Taking time to be focussed and alert relies upon us taking time to drift and to relax. The kind of alertness that is spoken about in Matthew's gospel, in Rumi's poetry, and also embodied in the meaning of the Buddha is a kind of alertness that is not tense, nor is it a rigid kind of alertness. While it can be easy to fall into the stress and busy-ness of the holiday season, we are called to be alert - and to cultivate a real sense of relaxed awareness and alertness.
I pray that we might take the time to rest, but also to be alert, to get done what needs to be done, but also to banish stress and anxiety.
"Don’t go back to sleep."
Be one who is awake!
~The Rev. Peter M. Carey