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On Trying to Wake Up

Modern sculpture of figures in a garden setting with several people asleep and an upright figure receiving a chalice from a winged character.
Frank Vincentz / CC BY-SA (

I've been thinking about Jesus' final hours in the garden when he said to the apostles who were with him: can you not stay awake with me for even an hour?

He was in torment from the knowledge of the darkness to come, just as he, and we, are in pain from this present darkness.

He called himself and them to awaken, not to the picking up of swords, but to a girding of love. He called them to pray as he prayed, willing the required endurance, precalling requests that his crucifiers be forgiven.

He calls us also.

Be awake, people whose hearts hunger for justice. Heed the call to love beyond your human capability, to forgive radically, and to shine with certainty that we are all one in God and with God.

One with the soldiers who oppress us, one with the voices which scream to crucify us. One with the chief priests and officials who would prefer us dead than on the streets in protest.

This awakeness to oneness is HARD.

Peter, James, and John were weary with fear and sorrow. Eager to take up arms rather than spread them wide. Unaware of how to do that even if they awakened.

We are weary from our own outrage, fear, and loss. We don't know how to spread our own arms in love.

It is not easy, this awakeness Jesus requests. We jerk into alertness and then drift away again. God knows how hard it is for us to remain in a place of love.

But let's try again today. Let's try to remember the unity of vine and branches, the oneness of the body of Christ, the presence of the Holy Spirit in each and every soul. Let's recall Jesus' prayer that we may be one as he and the other members of the Trinity are one.

Let's jerk ourselves awake today despite the latest round of news from Washington, and ask that God forgive them, and us, for the ways we abuse each other. Let's remember for even a little while that the glowing light of Christ burns in the places which seem desperately dark.

Can we stay awake with him, even for just an hour?

Let's try.


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