Awake from your slumber! Arise from your sleep! These two sentences are from the opening verse to the song, City of God. What does an “awakened life” mean to you? This is a question posed on an application for a spiritual direction training program that I’m considering. The question is an intriguing one that invites some reflection. How might you answer this question? It’s a good question for those of you considering religious life to ponder.
For many of us, waking up is hard to do, and this is true both physically (from sleep) and spiritually. Sipping coffee, exercising, or listening to upbeat music may be some ways to awaken your body and mind so that you can face a new day. But, how do we wake up our heart and soul? How do we live an “awakened life.”?
I offer three words—awareness, acceptance, and aliveness—as ways to live an awakened life.
Awareness or self-awareness is so important to living a fulfilling life in so many ways. By being aware of my strengths, I can use my gifts to help others and to enrich my own life. If being an artist, for example, is my gift, I can create beauty for others to enjoy while bringing joy to myself as I nurture my craft. Knowing my weaknesses teaches me what I need to work on and where I might not be of service to others. If I’m not mechanically gifted, for example, it’s best that I let someone else take care of such matters or I might create more of a mess instead of being part of the solution. I need to know my limits and appreciate what others can offer.
Acceptance is another word that communicates an aspect of an “awakened life” to me. When I can accept myself for who I am and others for who they are, we can both be free to become our best selves. Acceptance opens the door to compassion and once we have developed self-compassion, we can connect with and reach out to other people in a meaningful way. Living an awakened life means you accept life exactly as it is and as it unfolds for you. Acceptance means understanding that life is filled with both joy and sorrow. Some things we can change; some things we cannot change. Acceptance sometimes requires letting go of our notions of how life should be and seeking to accept the way things are, and in this process, we may create an open space for God to enter and speak to us.
Aliveness is the third word that speaks to me of an “awakened life.” When I am fully alive, I am being present to the moment and engaged in my surroundings—I am living life to the fullest. I am seizing the moment, pushing through the clouds, and finding the light that illuminates my path. In living life to the fullest, I take risks to discover new possibilities, I am open to exploring new ways of being and doing things, I find and use my voice to speak my truth and to speak up for injustices so others can experience being alive too.
Being fully alive requires a willingness to be stretched and to live outside my comfort zone, to see through a new, unbiased lens and to hear the truth with an openness to being transformed. To be fully alive, we awaken to God, to others, and to ourselves. As we awaken to all that surrounds us and seek to understand our purpose in life, we become alive with new insights, new ways of employing our senses to live with open hearts and open minds to the Creator’s many blessings.
Awake from your slumber! Arise from your sleep! A new day is dawning for those who seek to live an awakened life.
Are you ready to be awakened by God through life as a religious sister? If so, we invite you to contact us here to take the first step on the adventure of a lifetime.