PRAYER: Aliveness And Wakefulness (In Place of an Introduction) by Brother David Steindl-Rast

An Approach to Life in Fullness

Aliveness And Wakefulness (In Place of an Introduction) by Brother David Steindl-Rast

From: Gratefulness, The Heart of Prayer

This book is about life in fullness.  It is about coming alive.  I could summarize it in two words: Wake up!

A poet like Kabir is able to say these two words with a freshness that makes us sit up.  Kabir’s poems have power.  They wake us up to an aliveness we never thought possible.

Do you have a body? Don’t sit on the porch!
Go out and walk in the rain!

If you are in love,
then why are you asleep?

Wake up, wake up!
You have slept millions and millions of years.
Why not wake up this morning?

In my own way, I try to get the same message across.  And people are hungry for it.  All around the world I have been invited to speak about it.  And people always ask, “Why don’t you write this down?”  That’s what I have done here.

Of what use is an introduction?  A few readers will skim it.  The rest will skip it altogether.  The skippers won’t read this anyway.  For skimmers I have a suggestion.  There is an alphabetical list of key words at the end of this book.  You might want to glance at that list.  If I haven’t completely failed, it will show you two things:

  1. Waking up is a continuing process.  No one wakes up once and for all.  There is no limit to wakefulness, just as there is no limit to aliveness.
  2. It is risky to be awake to life.  It takes courage.

We have to choose between risk and risk.  We run the risk of sleeping through life, of never waking up at all.  Or else we wakefully rise to the risk of life, facing the challenge of life, of love.

If you are in love,
then why are you asleep?

Men and women who dare face this question may find this book helpful.  For others, reading it would be a waste of time.  As Kabir put it:

If you are about to fall into heavy sleep anyway,
why waste time smoothing the bed
and arranging the pillows?

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