Waking from Slumber

The trumpet blast sustained for a time as the herald cried out, “Awake, you who sleep. Arise from the dead!” I did, roused slowly by the trumpet’s sharp tenor as it finally broke the spell of sleep. I came to, rubbing the crusts of sleep from my eyes only to find in my stupor that I sat amidst a terrible battlefield. The slain were to my right and my left. Some mounted on beasts were horribly wounded but still slicing the air with their weapons. Some wielded long, shimmering swords. Others covered their heads with only bare hands, trying to absorb the blows of an enemy I was blearily trying to make out through the fog of my own daze. I was so astonished at the idea of a battle, so stunned at the thought of an actual enemy that for a long time I could not move. Until the horrific stare of its eyes turned towards me.

I began clawing desperately at the ground for anything I could find to defend myself. And I opened my mouth to cry out. It was weak and scratchy from sleep, but I must have uttered a sound of some kind as the herald himself appeared as though through smoke. He positioned his mount between me and the attack and fixed somber and discomfiting eyes on me. Those eyes, though grave, were also strangely musical, as though in looking into them a lyrical ballad was ushering forth, reaching into my depths and speaking. I immediately turned towards the ground where armor and weapons lay haphazard in a heap. These were obviously unkempt and quite obviously mine, though their unfamiliarity and poor condition was a shock. Rust had crept over much of the iron parts. But I knew to pick them up, and I knew their disrepair was due to me.

Relief at the herald’s salvation mingled with shame at the condition of my gear. How could I have slept so long? Surely in the eyes of this herald was a music that had been playing all along because it was so familiar, so wildly reminiscent. In his eyes, I saw that I had let myself fall asleep, exposed myself to a great evil. Certainly from youth I had known better than that.

But all had to be put behind me now. The battle was upon us, and it was time to engage. The trumpet was still sounding, and more and more lifeless bodies were rousing from their drunken stupor. Without sound, the herald had come about and was leading a squadron into the enemy’s dark flanks. It was time to follow, awake.

“Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light. See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil … Be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God … praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints…”

-Ephesians 5:14-16, 6:10-13a, 18