Close Encounters

15 Jan

I prayed the sunrise.

It was a new experience for me this past Tuesday morning.

I didn’t set the alarm that morning. When I do it just tends to wake up my wife rather than me and that makes for a bumpy start to the day. So I was trusting God for my early wake up time. In the early morning hours I floated in and out of sleep as I would glance up at the clock. And it was the darndest thing. Through those early morning hours in that twilight sleep state I realized I was having a conversation with God.

Have you seen Spielberg’s Always? Dreyfuss’ deceased character, coming back among the living as a “mentoring spirit” encounters his life’s love (Holly Hunter’s character). He can’t communicate directly with her, however – except when she’s in that dreamy twilight stage of sleep. So he was laying in bed with her having a conversation with her as she recited her shopping list.

It was like that.

I have no idea what we talked about.

Don’t think that was the point. Why is it so often we seek a conversation with God (or with anyone else, for that matter) where he tells us something – a new word, a revelation, a plan. Why do we get so caught up in the content of such an encounter? Why are we so content driven overall? Oh how hard to shake the god of productivity that drives so much of what we do in business, in religion, in life. Why must everything and everyone have some production value for us, some demonstrable utility? I woke up and realized that God had been having a totally frivolous conversation with me. Just because. Imagine that. And I was just asleep enough to notice.

It was timely. I had lost track of the song. In fact I had so lost track of the song that I was literally, physically submerged in fatigued, exhausted sleep just about the entire previous weekend. I thought I was getting sick but now I realize I simply wasn’t hearing the melodies anymore. My wife said I needed to hear the music again. You can’t manufacture that; it doesn’t just show up on command when a worship service starts. It is pure gift.

He must have been humming to me in those early morning hours, because I woke up hearing the song again.

I drove to work, threw open the bookstore gates, and as I started walking towards the prayer meeting I was supposed to be in, I felt a clear divine summons. An invitation. Not an imperative, “Thou shalt do this,” but a simple invitation, a “I have something for you if you want it” kind of invitation. It was an invitation to step back outside and walk towards the sunrise. So out I went.

It was another of those glorious orange and pink sunrises, just coming into it’s fulness. Walking towards it to the eastern edge of the parking I just stood there. And I found myself praying the sunrise.

I’m still not sure how you pray the sunrise. But I did. I prayed it over one person suddenly visibly before me (her name rhymes with Lula). I felt the sunrise for her. I heard it, I heard him, and somehow it all passed through me right to her. At least that’s how it felt.

I doubt that will ever be repeated. I doubt it will ever become a movement or will make an appearance in a book on proven prayer techniques. To even contemplate such feels like stomping on holy ground with hobnail boots. Even to say as much as I am here feels like risking violating the moment.

But what a beautiful encounter. How like God to issue such a simple invitation, to let me feel that sensation of praying the sunrise and have it all pass right through me for a child.

It was good. It was a gift.

How many such invitations have I missed? How many bushes aflame with God have I stepped right over – or worse, extinguished with my own religious and irreligious retardants? Too depressing to consider.

As I walked back towards the building, a friend in the parking lot had just pulled up and was getting his son off to class.

“Hey, you look different!” he yelled.

Amazing what a difference it can make to once again hear the music all around us.

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Posted by on January 15, 2012 in musings, Prayer


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