Your lashes flutter against the baby-soft skin of your cheek.
Suddenly your lungs are all aflame with the new air that somehow contains too much oxygen.
You cannot breathe. You are choking on the clearness of the air.
Because everything is different now.
One moment everything was fuzzy. Now it is so sharp it almost hurts your eyes. The outlines are so clear you can almost see them. Knife-edged.
Mark Twain once said that the two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.
When I was twelve I saw my first Broadway musical.
It was Mamma Mia!, at the Winter Garden Theater in New York City. I was on a trip with my church, a trip I do not remember fondly -- except for this.
I distinctly remember looking at the stage, at the lights and the singing and the dancing and the rollicking fun -- and thinking, I could do that.
And folks, we were off to the races.
After that summer, I went to junior high, where I became known for singing around every corner, at every turn. My best friend and I would sing duets from musicals in our class breaks.
And then I went to high school, where I was in choir and fell in love with classical music -- and thence even further, to college, where I fell into opera, and opera fell into me and landed in my soul and would not get out.
But it all started on a hot July day when I was twelve years old.
I'm twenty-three now. That was ten years ago. Nothing if not absolutely trippy.
For ten years I've known I wanted to be a performer; I've known I wanted to be on stage. If I had known that was this year I would have thrown myself a party! Heck, I still might.
There's a reason we refer to it as calling. Because it's like something whisper-hollers into your soul. Whispers because it is so gentle, sometimes subtle. Hollers because it shocks you awake with a jolt.
Because before, we were asleep. Before we were drowsy. And now with all the gentleness of drifting into slumber, we are shocked awake. It's the most electric peacefulness we've ever felt.
It is being born again, again -- because, of course, we are born anew when we place our faith in Jesus, but when Jesus shares this little secret with us -- the secret of calling and of the joyous things He has made for us to do -- well, it's being born a third time.
We are shocked awake, as if someone had placed a defibrillator on our chest when we were only dozing. But it's with all the gentleness of someone placing a hand on your chest to loosen up your breathing and free your sternum -- and all the neuroticism of electrical currents riding like pop rocks on your tongue.
It's all of that at once.
I cannot describe what it is to wake up to calling.
I just know that one day -- we wake up.
One day Jesus pulls away the veil -- or part of it -- and we get a vision, we get a glimpse. We are astounded, because of course -- of course of course of course! Of course this is what it is! How could it be otherwise? It's the unique cocktail of our soul and the voice of God and His thumbprint as He has made us and formed us out of clay and dust and ether and, for me, song and story.
What are we made out of?
Dust and clay and air and -- what is it for you?
Somewhere in my DNA is a treble staff.
Wired across it march the adventure-words of my main man J.R.R. Tolkien. Like golden chicken wire, like the wiring you put on necklaces. Like silver stitches in my skin.
And when we awake we see clearly that the way we are made is on purpose -- that of course it had to be this -- because God made us for it!
And we are awake.
We cannot go back to sleep.
We are little children on Christmas morning, and every day of the rest of our lives thereafter is Christmas, too.
This is not to say that calling comes easy.
Often we only see a corner of the quilt. A corner of the page, with a few words on it. We get a few puzzle pieces.
But it's enough to jolt us awake like lightning bolts. It's enough to fuel the fire. Enough to wake us up so that we never go back to sleep again because we are too excited.
It is enough to set us on the Road.
And Jesus reveals the rest of it -- not even the rest, but just more of it -- bit by tiny bit, like He is peeling back the gold wrapping papper, like the rest of our lives is one long unwrapping of the gift. And we are sitting on the edge of our seats, every cell in our bodies alive and quaking to see what we will be given next. What part of the call has yet to be unveiled.
You see, we are awake.
And we will not go back to sleep.
We are alive in the third sense of the word. And we have rubbed the sleep from the corners of our eyes and gone leaping down the road like Lazarus and lame men and the little girl that Jesus raised from the dead.
We go walking and leaping and praising God with all the vitality of electricity.