This Fall, our staff is reading Robert Mulholland’s Invitation to a Journey.
In a section where he discusses the classical Christian spiritual disciplines, he includes four stages of the classical pilgrimage: awakening, purgation, illumination, and union.
As I was reading through the part on Awakening, I thought through different moments in my life where I have experienced it - in particular, those moments where I knew my life could never be the same, where an awakening happened, where things weren’t quite like they seemed to be.
Mulholland writes this about awakening,
It is comfort because there is a sense of awakening to deeper realities of who we are and who God is. But at the same time there is threat: in that awakening, we recognize that we are not what we ought to be and that God is something far more than we thought. And so there is an ambivalence in genuine awakening. Something in us hungers for this, yet something in us also resists.
In the short time that I spent thinking through this, I quickly thought of the specific times in my adult life where this has happened and two of them had to do with poverty.
The first time happened while I was on a trip to Puerto Penasco and a father asked for help providing food for his family. At that time, he couldn’t do it himself. He had no work and no money.
It was an awakening moment. I couldn’t eat for a while because of it.
The second time was when I transferred to the University of Southern California where I planned to continue my pursuit of a dream to be a kicker in the NFL. I spent my summers, while at USC, with Athletes in Action and the Urban Project - Los Angeles, and during this time, I had the privilege to loved on, and to be loved on by kids growing up on Skid Row - many of them from families living in homelessness.
It was an awakening experience. Football, and my life how I had envisioned it, just didn’t make much sense anymore.
After both of these moments, my life was never the same.
In one way or another, I was awakened, more than anything, to the pain and suffering of others in ways I had not experienced before, and it was these moments, along with a childhood filled with women and men committed to ending spiritual and physical poverty, that kickstarted my life along a path of the pursuit to create justice; to live out the passion in the words of Jesus,
In the areas of poverty and injustice, have you had moments of awakening that changed your life forever?