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Thursday, April 6, 2017

Hitting the Snooze Button

Sometimes I run across something to read that I never would have found or chosen on my own.  Cosmopolitan is not on my regular reading list, but a friend sent a link to an article in that periodical.  When I read the title, I knew I would read it.  The title was pretty self-explanatory: “Anne Lamott talks to Gloria Steinem about Writing, Kindness and Making Sense of the Universe.”  I like to read Anne Lamott and Gloria Steinem I know.  So I figured, why not?
   
The first book by Lamott I read was Traveling Mercies.  I still think that is one of her better ones.  In many ways Anne Lamott is quirky and unpredictable---especially when you initially encounter her.  After reading a few of her books, they begin to sound alike.  But I realize she is only one person.  After a few conversations with me, I probably start repeating myself, too!  Nevertheless, I was intrigued what might come out with the conversation between these two fascinating women. 
   
The first question Steinem poses to Lamott is a good question.  Basically she asks Anne whether she was ever tempted to be more theological or philosophical in her books?  After all, Lamott is a Christian and theologically a pretty evangelical Christian.  Lamott’s answer is wonderful.  Lamott says, “I don't see myself as a deep philosopher.  The things I write about tend to be what we all have to face, or consider, or experience, that I talk about with my friends and brothers.  It's universal stuff, told in my own voice, my own details and truth, which is all I have to offer.”  I appreciate this.  She is effectively telling us she writes about her own experience, which is a version of every human’s experience.  It is easy to learn from her wins and her mistakes.
   
Lamott continues in her own blunt way.  She says “we are all going to die.”  She elaborates this commentary on death with her perspective on life.  Listen to her words.  “But the question is, how do we live as women and men in the face of this?  Why do we let ourselves be so distracted and obsessed by meaningless B.S. in light of having one short, precious life?  When are we going to wake up and be fully alive to each other and nature and magic and wonder and Life with a capital L?  When will we stop hitting the snooze button? And then, how alive are we willing to be?”  You will notice the title of my inspiration near the end of these quoted words: hitting the snooze button.
   
I liked this image for living an unaware life---a life on cruise control.  When we should wake up and get on the road of life, we hit the snooze button.  Instead of awakening, we opt for more sleep.  Instead of engagement, we prefer laziness.  Instead of opening our eyes in order to see, we keep them shuttered in a self-imposed blindness.  In this state our world literally is a dream.
   
Lamott is correct: the question is how do we live in the fact of death’s inevitable call at our door?  The real question is not whether we will die; it is whether we will choose to live---really live?  We cannot hit the snooze button and exercise our choice to live.  As usual, Lamott instructs me in the art of living.  I know I don’t see things the way she does, so that is why she is so helpful.  I am usually helped more by the people who think differently than I do.  Hanging out with like-minded friends is no challenge.
   
Lamott moves us a little further in our consideration of real living when she poses the simple, but penetrating, question, “why do we let ourselves be so distracted and obsessed…?  So many times I am distracted and obsessed by “meaningless B.S.,” as she delicately put it.  She is probably correct.  If fact, we can likely go so far as to say all B.S. is meaningless.  No doubt, we enter a spiritual danger zone when we try to justify our own B.S. as somehow meaningful.  And surely, our culture is selling meaningless B.S. all over the place.  Watching commercials is a good place to see that selling going on!
   
So the spiritual life is a life that gets rid of distractions and obsessions.  These attach us to something other than the Holy One.  Lamott goes on to detail what the spiritual life looks like.  It is when we choose to “wake up and be fully alive to each other and nature and magic and wonder and Life with a capital L?”  Notice the contrast of “waking up” and hitting the snooze button.  We can’t be spiritual and asleep!  If we wake up, then we have a chance to be fully alive to each other.  This will take us to the heart of community and into the heart of community.  We will be able to wake up and be full alive to nature.  Too many of us now live in unnatural bubbles.  It is always heat and air-conditioning and these become symbols of our sanitized soul-life.
   
We can choose to wake up and be fully alive to the magic and wonder of life.  Maybe we can even play around with the notion that becoming spiritual is becoming a magician.  We do not manipulate God’s Spirit, but we do incarnate it and allow it transform us.  And finally, she encourages us to become fully alive to life.  She even capitalizes it: L. 
   
All this is possible if we don’t hit the snooze button.

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