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“A single event can awaken within us a stranger totally unknown to us. To live is to be born slowly” (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry).
LIFE IS ALWAYS FILLED WITH THE PROMISE OF AWAKENINGS. In the case of some of us, we have slumbered through life to such an extent that we’re desperately in need of being awakened. Others have lived their lives more fully and may seem already to have been awakened. In either case, however, we need to be stirred. Within each of us lie deep reservoirs of untapped potential. Our physical birth may have been many years ago, but we’ve hardly more than begun to be the persons we’re capable of being — and on even the most ordinary day something extraordinary may happen that will wake us up and show us a wider realm of possibility. There is always the “danger” that this will happen to us.
Sometimes our awakening is the result of a great event. Births, marriages, and deaths come to mind, of course, but great awakenings are often produced by events much more unusual and unexpected than these. In fact, one of the most pleasurable aspects of life is the anticipation that around the very next corner may be a surprising situation that will stir us with such hope that we will never be the same.
At other times, we are awakened by a great person. Before our lives are over most of us will cross paths with one or two individuals whose influence upon us is so profound that they can be said to have opened our eyes to the lives we were meant to live. When we look back, we can see that our encounter with these people resulted in nothing less than a transformation of our character.
Awakenings are almost always to our benefit, at least eventually, but it’s a fact that they often come to us in circumstances surrounded by sorrow. The boldest and brightest new days we’ll ever see will often follow dark nights of destructive storm. But storms, perhaps more than anything else, force upon us new perspectives. And having passed through sorrow, we find ourselves awakened, opened up, and more completely alive. The sorrow passes, but the awakening remains.
These things are beautiful beyond belief:
The pleasant weakness that comes after pain,
The radiant greenness that comes after rain,
The deepened faith that follows after grief,
And the awakening to love again.