Saturday, December 5, 2009

Watch, therefore, for you know not the hour.

I really didn’t want to go to New York today. ‘Tis the season, as they say, but when “they” refers to singers, we’re not talking about being jolly but about heading down to New York, to a narrow building on 54th St with dingy bathrooms, in hopes of catching the eye and ear of one of the numerous auditors who park in those studios for hours at a time hearing aria after aria.

Last night was New Hampshire for a gig. When I got back to Boston in the late evening I took some time to wind down, packed a bag, laid out some travelling clothes, and hit the sack.

I woke in the middle of the night, as I tend to, and saw that the power was out in my apartment. Immediately I saw in my mind’s eye the letter from the electric company warning me it might be out this morning. My phone, which could have told me the time, also serves as my alarm clock. Therefore it was far across the room in the only place where I can guarantee I will have to get out of bed to turn it off.

Not knowing what time it was bothered me a lot. For whatever reason when I wake in the night I like to know how long it will be until I actually have to get out of bed. On days like today, when I needed to be up at 5:30 on the dot to make my 6:30 am train, it seems even more crucial. But last night I realized I had to live with the uncertainty and be ready for the alarm when it came.

ADVENT THEMES ALERT!! I thought to myself in the drowsy night, as I fought off the insomnia that I seem to have caught from my brother over Thanksgiving. Watch, therefore, for you know not the day nor the hour. (Mt 25:13)

When the alarm sounded at 5:30 I swung out of bed, wove my way across the room, hit the button on my phone, lit a candle, and got moving. I followed the plan I had determined the night before, was in a cab at 6:00 and on the road at 6:30. At some point during the 10 hours I spent on the Megabus today, I realized I was able to get out the door not because I’m wily or because of any exceptional night vision, but because I knew what I wanted to take with me.

What do I want to take with me when the trumpet sounds? Faith, hope, charity, mercy, justice, love? If so, I better keep them near me, “laid out” like my clothes (read: tossed) on the futon while I sleep nearby. There are things there would be nice to take, and then there are essentials. Today it was a dress, heels, and the Hopkins biography I’m reading. Maybe a good exercise for Advent is to think about what I truly can’t live without, what I want to have close at hand when the alarm rouses me in a powerless night, earlier than I ever expected.

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