Stay Awake with Me: The Back Story

iStock_000002228260XSmallIt’s October and I’m sitting around the kitchen table with my wife and close friend, Thomas Atum. This earth is dry. It hasn’t rained in months. The threat of forest fire is most palpable this time of year in California. As evening comes on the first rain of the season begins. We listen to it, and breathe in its smell. And I have one of those moments, where you might say that I see as God sees. Life is happening, the rain has come, and I am its witness, an organ of the cosmos that is able to hear, and to appreciate. I’m profoundly aware that I’m aware.

This moment gives me the idea for a song, and its first line. It will percolate for months.

During that time I am also taking care of my sister, who is suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s. It’s a typical day where I’ve blocked off a few hours to take her out for lunch in the midst of my busy schedule. I get to her place and a full forty-five minutes pass getting her jacket on and walking to the car. My tension has been building and then comes a flash of surrender, acceptance. There is nothing else to be doing, nothing more important, than walking slowly along with this soul in this moment.

These and other moments are giving shape to the song. Only later, as the song is finding its direction do I realize that the line “stay awake with me” is almost the same words that Jesus says to his disciples during his time of trial.

I invite you to think of a moment of “waking up” in the midst of your ordinary life, and seeing it with different eyes. It could be caring for a willful toddler or a person who is ill beyond your help. It could be watching the rain. How does being truly aware change the experience?