Staring off to some distant place in her mind, I waved my hand in front of her face to awaken her. “Helloooo” I beckoned. Ever since childhood, the same remedy has been used for daydreaming, and its familiarity can often make us unaware of the lesson it has to teach: we all fall into trances and need to be awakened.

Looking back over my life, I can find many times when I have fallen spiritually asleep or lost in a trance. Even in the busy routine of life, in the making of lunches, dropping kids off at school, going to work, working out, visiting friends, going on vacations, I fall sleep. As crazy and hectic as I often feel my life is, I seem capable of staring off to some distant place. If you read the Biblical story, it is a constant back and forth between being in a trance and then awakening, forgetting then remembering. My life has the same rhythm. Perhaps yours does, too.

Eventually, we are awakened, but what awakens us? If only it took a hand waving in front of our faces, or a gentle whisper from a mother saying “It’s time to get up.” For most of us, it takes more than a hand or whisper. It takes a visit to the doctor, a call from the bank, a “could I see you for a minute” request from a boss, or a “we need to talk” declaration from a spouse. These moments awaken, they bring us out of our slumber and fully into the present.

On a recent hike, I found my mind wandering. After an hour on the trail, I began to think about far away places and became unaware of the scenery around me and the people with whom I was hiking. I stepped on a loose rock and nearly fell off the trail. Awakened, I was back in the present. With my heart beating quickly, I was aware of my surroundings and companions.

The loose rocks on which we slip, or the low-hanging branches on which we hit our heads, are, at first glance, obstacles or annoyances, but they can be seen as important awakening moments as well. Just as our lives are filled with things that stand in our way or happen to us unexpectedly, we can see them as obstacles to get around or difficulties to endure. We can live trying to avoid obstacles, or we can learn to embrace them as the hands waving in front of our sleepy eyes, beckoning: “Helloooo.”

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