As the skies move from daylight to dark, we come to the time of the day to hear my favorite words from the Book of Common Prayer, from the last prayers of the day – Compline.
The prayer that follows is from the New Zealand Prayer Book and speaks to my … interaction, both good and bad … with the night.
Years ago when I was in Intensive Care in the hospital and coming through my first medical experience of coping with a condition over which I had no control, I feared the night. My body changed sleep cycles so that I would stay awake through the darkness and sleep during the day. It all seemed even more scary to me in its irrationality until one of my clergy pointed out to me that it was this fear that came from my loss of control.
It’s tough for people to go through that the first time. And it’s even more tough for guys to go through it. (See my other writings in this blog on “guys”)
Now – having gone through that challenge of the mind and the spirit – those hours are a welcome refreshment to me. Even on the sleepless nights, the hours of darkness are when I can settle down, away from the distractions I can see, and open my heart to welcome the rest of the quiet evening. When medical stress pops up and changes my sleeping cycles for me, I accept the change of my hours for what they are. I no longer live in fear of that night and that darkness, but feel glad for what I have done with my days, I find the rest I need, and I move through the hours, no longer the darkness as a villain – as a reminder of death.
I find in the hours of night a great peace that reminds me of how I felt as a child, settling on a comfortable pillow, under a cool sheet or a warm blanket, sleeping in great anticipation of another fun day to come.
Keep the faith!
Lord it is night:
The night is for stillness.
Let us be still in the presence of God.
It is night after a long day.
What has been done has been done; what has not been done has not been done.
Let it be.
The night is dark.
Let our fears of the darkness of the world and of our own lives rest in you.
The night is quiet.
Let the quietness of your peace enfold us, all dear to us, and all who have no peace.
The night heralds the dawn.
Let us look expectantly to a new day, new joys, new possibilities.
In your name we pray.