I know all the rules about not looking at your email in the middle of the night. But much of my email consists of prayer requests, and one of the few benefits of wakefulness in the wee hours is that it provides an opportunity for prayer -- there are so many worse things a person could do at four in the morning than pray herself back to sleep that I couldn't begin to count them all.
Yesterday's orthopedic eMo evoked many prayer requests: Bruce, whose brain tumor has recurred, Anna whose knees have given out -- many knees wrote in. Hips, backs, hearts -- all the miraculous parts of the miraculous bodies we all were given. The very fact of any of us holding together long enough to wear out is the most improbable of miracles. It is by no means the first, though: our conception itself was such a stunning right-place-at-the-right-time lining up of factors that it's a wonder any of us are here. Yet, here we are.
On the Geranium Farm, virtual candle stand: click on "light a virtual prayer candle" and you are there. On any given day, 350-450 candles " burn" there, a name or a brief phrase beneath each one identifying the prayer. You click on the candle itself to get a fuller picture: someone is taking the GRE, someone's sister is a primary caregiver, someone faces surgery, someone is anxious, someone else is grateful Human need and human gratitude shine in the dark, as they have since humanity first walked the earth, and they form the web of prayer in which we encounter God together. We encounter God when we encounter and accept the need and love of the universe, even though we must do this bit by tiny bit. We encounter God together.
Together? But aren't I just lying here in bed, everyone else in the house asleep? Aren't I just clicking on my iPad, its pale light lifting the vague shapes of the bedroom furniture out of the room's inky darkness? With whom might I be said to be "together"?
With everyone. With everyone who ever lived or ever will live. With those I have loved and love now, and those I will never meet. Some of them emerge from the darkness like the bedroom furniture, the light of prayer illuminating them briefly so that I may see them. Some do not. But God sees them all, and God sees me -- sees me from the inside of me, not just from the outside. God knows me. God knows all of us.
Sometimes, in the wee hours of prayer, I can feel the truth: there is no time. Past, present and future: they're all now. And there is no space: Italy and Kenya, new Delhi and Boise, Idaho -- all are here. Everyone is here, the living and the dead.
This can only happen in prayer. Our new bedroom is really small.
Now I'm tired. I think I can sleep. Consecrate my sleep, gracious God, as you consecrated my wakefulness. I sleep and awaken in you.
Go light a candle -- www.geraniumfarm.org. Yours will stay lit for a week. Come back any time. And take a look at the rest of the Farm while you're there.