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Time to wake up

Faithpoint | Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Wake up! Yes, you. Time to wake up! It’s that time of year. In front of our house along the St. Joe River, groggy possums and raccoons and skunks have been un-hibernating themselves and beginning their spring tradition of stupidly staggering right out into the road trying to figure out where they are. “Where am I?” is unfortunately the last question some of them will ask in life as their newly-awake reflexes aren’t yet equal to the task of a speed limit of 30 miles per hour.

On a more pleasant note, have you noticed the daffodils blooming? They made it through last weekend’s bizarre snow flurries and the robins are back. These next few weeks are a great time to appreciate the warmer weather because by the time we get to May and June, we’ll be taking it for granted.

How odd that a 65-degree day which thrills us this week will seem like nothing in another six or eight weeks. So many days in our lives are like that, though, unless we manage to see them over and over, and not just the first time, as a gift from God.

Perhaps at the beginning of Lent you took the task of preparing for Easter just a bit more seriously than you do now, several weeks in. Even during these 40 days, days in which we’re supposed to be awake, attentive and preparing, we can be lulled into the false grogginess of our daily routine. Before we know it we’re out in the middle of the road, looking around and wondering, “Where am I?”

We need to keep waking ourselves up, because we do take a lot for granted. We presume, without thinking much about it, that the lights will go on when we flip the switch; plenty of food will await us in the dining hall when we show up; our computer will save our paper when we click the little disk icon. And we need the freedom to assume that many aspects of our lives will go exactly as planned: that the class you’ve attended in DeBartolo all semester hasn’t just been spontaneously moved to the Earth Sciences building unannounced, for example.

The idiom “to take for granted” means to value something or someone less than we should; to be complacent or neglectful, even indifferent, just because we can. That’s OK for light switches and lunch, though it goes without saying that we should appreciate even those much more than we do, for so many people go without both every day. In spring, when each year the whole world around us wakes up; and in Lent, when we re-awaken each year to the central reality of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we should be especially on guard against our natural human tendency to take for granted the many great gifts with which God blesses us each day.

On Easter Sunday, we each have the opportunity to renew the vows of our baptism. We can say “yes” to the most central beliefs of our faith, and vow to live out those beliefs so that our presence in the world brings it a little closer to the Kingdom of God. Every Sunday – every day if we so choose – we unite ourselves to the mystery of the body of Christ through receiving the Eucharist. You’d think such significant moments would never, ever become routine, and yet at times we can even take these aspects of our faith for granted.

In my own family, my youngest child is approaching her First Communion. Matthew, a boy in her class, knows exactly how many days are left until The Big Day. My daughter – like my other kids before her, as well as Matthew and many other second graders – will probably count for a while how many “communions” they’ve made (“Mom, I just made my sixth communion!”). The challenge for all of us comes in trying to keep that “first communion” sense of appreciation, wonder and gratitude for longer than just a few special days or weeks.

Make awareness and gratitude your mission during these new days of Spring and not-so-new-days of Lent. Make a Lenten fast from apathy and indifference. The same God who created the heavens and the earth is also with you in every heartbeat and each breath you take. Take notice! Stay awake!

This week’s Faithpoint is written by Kate Barrett. Kate Barrett is the

director of the Emmaus program in Campus Ministry. She can be reached at kbarrett@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not

necessarily those of The Observer.