In slumber, I sleep
In a stupor, I stoop
In the sacred, I soar
I recently applied for a part-time administrative job at the local zoo. I love animals. Some tell me I love animals more than people. That probably depends on the animal. Or the person.
Because I love animals, I debated whether working at a zoo wouldn’t trouble my conscience. The jury’s still out on this for me, but the argument that these creatures are being raised outside their natural habitat does trouble me.
Our most common vision is of the large cat, be it lion or leopard, who paces back and forth within his confines. Many zoos have larger, more organic environments than just cages, of course. But you’re still left to wonder—is this where they are meant to be?
I too often find myself pacing like the lion. I push forward against the boundaries of my life. Wishing I were somewhere else. Learning to adapt inside my cage. I satiate myself with processed food or binging on a favorite television show. I try to discipline myself to do the right thing. I sometimes act when I shouldn’t or don’t act when I should. I too often sigh with resignation more than I roar with life.
But then in my stupor, I have the vaguest recollection that cages are often of our own making. And then I do something small, seemingly insignificant, and it all comes back to me.
Months ago, I woke up deep within my cage. I rose to go to work, buried underneath a landfill of wasteful anxiety—how was I going to solve the innumerable tasks the day held for me? I began to strategize, to push back against the fear, to breathe in and out and take one step forward.
It was early in the morning. Next thing on my long to-do list was to wipe the condensation from my car…when I looked up into the pre-dawn sky. There, against a canvas of the darkest blue were just the fewest stars and the sliver of a moon. And my heart said, “Oh…”
Are we like the caged animal? Are the bars of our own making? Do we, like John Donne once said, “neglect God and his angels for the noise of a fly, for the rattling of a coach, for the whining of a door”? Where is our natural habitat? Is this where we’re meant to be?
Maybe, by a simple change of focus, or by a shift in location or activity, we’ll move ourselves beyond the cage of our slumber or stupor into the realm of the sacred. The truth will finally ring true in our ears, and our heart will say, “Oh…”
Unlike the poor lion, most of our cage doors are already open. It’s a daily choice whether we’ll step outside.
“One of the great sorrows which came to human beings when Adam and Eve left the garden was the loss of memory, memory of all that God’s children are meant to be.” —Madeleine L’Engle
About John Michalak
An author, speaker, musician, and minister, John Michalak has spent more than 25 years equipping others in the areas of life-change and personal relationship. John’s inspirational new book, 365 Devotions To Embrace What Matters Most is now available from Zondervan publishing.
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