Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Speak, For Your Servant is Listening!

Hear the Word of God from 1 Samuel 3:1-10!

Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread.

At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called, "Samuel! Samuel!" and he said, "Here I am!" and ran to Eli, and said, "Here I am, for you called me." But he said, "I did not call; lie down again." So he went and lay down. The Lord called again, "Samuel!" Samuel got up and went to Eli, and said, "Here I am, for you called me." But he said, "I did not call, my son; lie down again." Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, "Here I am, for you called me." Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, "Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, 'Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.' " So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, "Samuel! Samuel!" And Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant is listening."

The Word of God for the People of God!

Yes, I know! This particular passage is not in today's lectionary and I do not even know if it is in the lectionary at all during Lent but it is in my experience of Lent as it seems God has been awakening me every night between 2:30 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. and, to be honest, I have no idea why. I have responded each time to the awakening -- to the calling -- and have stayed in my bed trying to be available to whatever it is God wants from me. It is not my habit to take this time, i.e. to simply fill it with my words, as I have come to understand that it is my time to listen. And listen I have... to not avail -- unless holding a few dear ones before God trusting that he will do what he will do and waiting to see if God would tell me what his desire for these two particular people would be, is something... but nothing!

So, last night (or shall I say early -- very early! this morning!) instead of staying in bed as has been the case for the past week, I sensed that perhaps God simply wanted me to keep vigil -- to have a night watch. I quietly climbed out of our bed so as not to disturb my dear sleeping husband and made my way to our couch, which happens to be the place -- my sacred place, if you will -- where I typically have my intentional times of prayer, of keeping company with God. Beside the couch is a basket where I keep my favorite Bible, my journal and two of my favorite books -- Psalms for Praying: An Invitation to Wholeness by Nan C. Merrill (I shared Psalm 27 out of this book in my last post!) and Seven Sacred Pauses by Macrina Wiederkehr.

As I opened the book Seven Sacred Pauses, I noticed that it opened to a dog-eared page in the first section of the book where Macrina describes what the Vigil is all about. As I glanced at the page, my eyes saw why I had earlier dog-eared that page -- there was a quote there to which I had been particularly drawn. It is a quote regarding the power of personal vigils from Marcy Heidish's book A Candle at Midnight, "Whether your vigil-keeping is centered around chronic illness, depression, personal crisis, national disaster, or simply the heart's yearning for a deepening relationship with God, self and others, vigilance is a spiritual discipline and a special kind of prayer." And then Macrina ends this section of the book with the following sentence, "May you learn to live with a vigilant heart."

It was then that I decided to let my eyes wander the previous pages to see if I could find how Macrina defines a vigil. I found two that I'd like to share:

When I rise in the middle of the night, my prayer is simply one of waiting in silence, waiting in darkness, listening with love. It is a prayer of surrender. In my night watch I do not ordinarily use words. My prayer is a prayer of intent. I make my intention and I wait. I become a deep yearning. The silence and the darkness are healing. My prayer is now a prayer of trust. I keep vigil with the mystery.
There is a difference between waiting and keeping vigil. Anxious, fretful, impatient waiting is nothing more than waiting. Waiting with purpose, patience, hope, and love is vigilant waiting. Would that all of our waiting could be a vigil--a watch in the night or in the day hours. So by all means, find a way to make your vigils sacred. Learn the art of holy waiting. Whether you choose, on occasion, to get up in the middle of night, or whether you make an effort to turn your everyday moments of waiting in sacred vigils rather than impatient pacing, you will be blessed through this spiritual practice.
So I closed the book for a few moments and just waited until I sensed it was time to begin the sacred pause -- the vigil. I picked up the book again and found the Night Watch pause and here's what followed. I have written my thoughts -- my silent prayer of my heart, if you will, in italics.

                                   Prayer Guide

My soul yearns for you, O God.
  Indeed! You know that!
I keep vigil with you through the night.
  I am listening, Lord!

Sacred Song
In this sacred darkness I sit in silence.
Open this moment, I trust in the darkness.
Waiting in trust, growing in trust.
Waiting and trusting the sacred darkness.
I surrender.
   waiting in trust... growing in trust... that is what you
   are doing... and asking that I surrender?
I surrender.
I surrender.
   Yes, Lord, you know I'm tired of this place -- this place
   of uncertainty -- of waiting! I will re-frame this waiting
   to a time of keeping vigil -- to vigilant waiting...

Contemporary Psalm
Antiphon:  My eyes are awake before each watch of the night, that I may meditate on your promise. (Ps. 119:148)

O Sentinel of the night skies,
Attendant of my soul's deep yearning.
Drawn into the night silence,
I keep vigil with eternal questions.
   You alone know my soul's deep yearning, as you've
   placed it there in my soul. I trust it is you who has
  drawn me into this vigil.

All through the night watch
I seek you without words.
Listening to the sound of silence,
I lean into the song of darkness
with infinite patience I wait for you.
   Infinite patience? Is that what is birthed into the soul
   who seeks you without words in the night watch?

Keeping vigil with eternal questions,
I do not look for answers; it is enough
to wait in the darkness of love's yearning.
My soul is my night light; I am not afraid.
   Hmmm... to learn to not look for answers but to simply
   wait -- to keep company with Love; in this space, I am
   not afraid!

Antiphon:  My eyes are awake before each watch of the night, that I may meditate on your promise. (Ps. 119:148)

Biblical Psalm (Psalm 63 -- From Praying the Psalms)
O Love, You are my Beloved, and
          I long for You,
   my soul thirsts for You;
All that is within me thirsts,
   as in a dry and barren land
          with no water.

So I have called out to You in
          my heart,
   sensing your power and glory.
Because your wondrous Love is
          Life in me,
     my lips will praise You.
I would radiate your Love as long
          as I live,
   becoming a blessings to others
         in gratitude to You.

My soul feasts as with a
         magnificent banquet,
   and my mouth praises You with
         joyful lips,
When I ponder on your kindness, and
   meditate on You throughout
         the night;
For You have been my salvation,
   and in the shadows of your wings
         I sing for joy.
My soul clings to You,
   your love upholds me.
The fears that seem to separate me
          from You
   shall be transformed and
As they are faced, each fear
          is diminished;
   they shall be gone as in a dream
          when I Awaken.
And my soul shall rejoice in the
   All who open their hearts to Love
         will live in peace and joy!
     While I may not experience in my vigil the healing
     I desire, or receive the clarity for which my soul
     yearns, something will happen as I Awake -- as I live
     out my days practicing my faith -- practicing the
     presence of God! I have opened my heart to Love
    I have peace & joy!

                                    Prayer of the Hour

The Angel of Night
     Summoned from sleep
     in the heart of night
     my name is called
     and, like Samuel,
     I rise from my bed
     seeking the caller.

     Summoned from sleep
     I am drawn into
     the beating heart
     of the One
     who called me.

     The angel of the night
     lights a candle in my soul
     inviting me to listen
     to the wordless song
     of Divine Union.

     Deep healing.
     Deep listening.
     Deep waiting.
     Deep watching
     All of these become
     a part of my night watch.

     In the heart of the night
     you prepare me to be
     your deep healing
     for all who watch
     through the night
     of their fears.  (by Macrina Wiederkehr)
        O Angel of the Night! Let it be so!

I then crawled back into bed and, after having slept for a few hours and being awakened by the alarm, I dragged myself to my spot on the couch, opened my laptop to find the daily lectionary which I gratefully receive via email. Today's gospel lesson is from John Chapter 5 where Jesus asks the man who has been waiting for years by the pool, "Do you want to be made well?" No, Jesus is asking me (and you!), "Do you want to be made well?" My response, "Yes, Lord! I'm thinking this rut isn't quite as comfortable as I had originally thought!"

What about you? Is God calling you in the night -- awakening you from your sleep for you to keep vigil or keep company with him? Do you have a deep yearning in your soul -- one for which only God can do something about? Finally, my friends, is Jesus asking you, "Do you want to be made well?" If so, what will be your response? You may, like me, find yourself keeping vigil as God can do miraculous healing within our souls in the dark of the night if we will but surrender!

Grace and Peace to you, my dear friends!

No comments:

Post a Comment