The only good I’ve ever done in the dark night hours is keep vigil.
In college and grad school, I tried to study and write at night, but the night is not for study. It is for rest, or it is for waiting.
When I checked myself into the hospital, I slept fitfully. I woke when the door swung open for safety checks, and the room flooded with light. While I tried to remind myself where I was and why I was there, I prayed little snippets of psalms. Out of the depths, I cry to you, O Lord. Everything grows more serious at night. I waited until sleep finally came. I waited until the morning finally came, when I could see things clearer.
This healing sometimes feel selfish, until I realize that it is not mine alone. God tells Abraham that he is blessed in order to bless, and I can’t help make a leap of logic: that we are healed in order to heal.
I ache at the thought, but maybe it’s true that their healing will come the same way ours did. Through waiting, not doing. Sleepless nights of vigil, waiting for the morning.
Hurricane Sandy blows through the East Coast today, and I am three thousand miles from the storm. My friends in Maryland and Virginia have stocked up on flashlight batteries and nonperishable food. Earlier in the day, they sat in their homes and waited for the wind and the rain. All through the day, I check Facebook and Gmail chat for their little green dots: a sign that their power is still on.
Here in California, it is eighty degrees and sunny. It feels like New York City and DC could be foreign countries. But as the hurricane struck land, they sat in their homes or in the shelters and waited for it to be gone, to see what it would do.
It strikes land in the evening, and high tide is well after nightfall. Most of them are sleeping right now, midnight on the West Coast. Or at least trying, pretending to sleep. I picture the ones listening to the sounds of wind and water, trying to picture how high the waters will come. The only thing to do after dark is to keep vigil.
So I do, in my own small way, three thousand miles from the storm. I click CNN, even though I can’t understand the numbers it tells me. I can’t imagine 6 million without electricity. I can’t picture waves 12 feet too high. I can’t understand how 2 dozen homes in Queens would burn at the same time that there is water flooding the subways. My mind can’t begin to wrap around 20 billion dollars, what they’re saying it might take to repair homes and buildings.
I’ve prayed these words for myself as I sat in the hospital. And now, on the other side of my healing, I pray them for a million others. Their wounds are different: children struck by tree branches, NICU babies being evacuated from a hospital, homes buried under the sea. Get some rest, I wish I could tell them. I’m here for a while, waiting up.
Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord, I pray for them. I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope.
There is nothing to do now for any of them except to wait till dawn. When morning comes, they can see for themselves. The folks in the boarded homes or in the shelters can walk outside and see–how lucky they’ve been or how bad it is. But for now there is only the waiting.
My soul waits for the Lord, I pray. More than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning.
This post is part of a series, 31 Days of Healing. Check out Day 1 or the complete list of posts. If you want to follow along, you can also subscribe by email or subscribe in a feed reader. Or “like” the blog on Facebook. (We’re all about options here.) And thanks for reading!