My friend John O’Leary tells a great story about the time he met 105 year old Sister Gertrude. John is a motivational speaker and author and was at her Catholic hospital to speak to its leaders later that day. But before giving that talk talk John wanted to meet some of the nuns who had helped establish the hospital decades ago – which is how he found himself in her hospital room, next to her bed, where she had been for the last six years.
After listening to John’s story (at the age of 9 John was burned on over 90% of his body) – of his work as a speaker and author, of his faith life and of his family – she took his hand and with eyes glistening told him “listen to me John, you need to wake up. Your family needs you to lead them. It’s time to wake up now. No more living idly. No more excuses. No more sleepwalking. It’s time to wake up!“
John has a picture on his desk of his visit with her that day. Every day he looks at that picture and is reminded of her challenge to wake up and truly live.
Sister Gertrude’s challenge is a great one for all of us isn’t it? We may have awakened this morning but are we truly living? As John says in his book, On Fire, “don’t confuse being out of bed with being fully awake.”
If we’re honest, most of us would admit that we often lose our enthusiasm for life. Our lives have become a series of tasks and by habit we go through the tasks of each day hardly noticing that we are alive. The great adventure of life mellows and we find ourselves literally sleepwalking through the gift that is our life.
Let’s take Sister Gertrude’s admonition into our own hearts and find the enthusiasm with which we greeted life each day as children. Let’s wake up each day with a firm resolution to truly live. And let’s end each day reflecting back on a day of truly living, giving, loving, laughing and leading.
If we do that our life will be a bright light – a light that will set the world on fire for good.
(Excerpted from On Fire, by John O’Leary)