"…In the arms of the angel
fly away from here
from this dark cold hotel room
and the endlessness that you feel
you are pulled from the wreckage
of your silent reverie
you're in the arms of the angel
may you find some comfort here…"
- Sarah McLaughlin
This song always makes me feel like there is Someone out there who is awake with me in the middle of the night when thoughts of "what if" and "how could I have" haunt my every effort to twist and turn away from the sleeplessness of self-examination and reformation.
It is in these moments of "silent reverie", when the body-of-the-past feels like a dark, cold hotel room…not a well-loved farmhouse where the homefires burn…that I am really most certain that there is a God.
I recently had a couple of those nights. Having been invited to facilitate a series of workshops for teens and adults at a conference, I lay awake in the dark asking God to show me what I could possibly have to give, in light of my own fathomless hunger for His hand in my life and my choices.
And His angels, over and over again, swooped in with messages of grace. Mary Baker Eddy defines Angels as: "God's thoughts passing to man, spiritual intuitions pure and perfect..."
One of these angel messages came, in height of summer, from a traditional Christmas song, that I love and have written about, on this blog, "In the Bleak Midwinter" (my favorite version of this song is by James Tayor, but since there is no Youtube performance of it I am including this link to Corinne May's performance...the words are a bit different, but I think you will get the poignancy of this song):
"What then can I give him
empty as I am
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb
If I were a wise man
I would know my part
What then can I give him
I must give my heart…"
It was enough to give me peace…and the tools to walk with His hand in mine, into those workshops the first day. I could and would give my heart. I would give my love for those dear teens and I would bring my own experiences of God's merciful kindness, His ever-present care, His unflagging guidance and direction.
The next night was harder. Who was I to facilitate an adult workshop on "relating to teens and their issues"…hour after hour I worked to quiet self-doubt and silence the Garth-like "I am not worthy" that argued in the courtroom of my consciousness while darkness hovered like a pall and dawn threatened from the edges of the eastern horizon. Finally the quieter voices of angels prevailed.
Another song found it's way like a lullaby through the cacophony of demons:
"I do not need to see the distant scene
One step enough for me…"
- CS Hymnal #169
I was asked to facilitate this workshop. Did I think that God had fallen asleep and that some over zealous, ill-informed-of my-failings-and-weaknesses Conference Director had intervened and mistakenly asked me to serve in this way. No! What an insult to God. I had to trust that the Conference Director was praying through each invitation to speak, facilitate, chaperone and serve, as well as each "staff" assignment, and that God had directed her all along the way. God was in charge here. We were all well-equipped to answer His call with the wisdom, grace, humility and love necessary to do what we were being asked.
"Here am I, send me.."
from Isaiah, became my mantra each step forward. Here am I at the threshold of the conference, send me to say hello to someone who needs to feel appreciated and loved. Here am I in the dining room, send me to ask help from someone who needs to feel needed. Here am I on the lawn, send me to embrace someone who needs to feel that they are recognized and known.
And, oh yes, here am I in a circle of parents, teen mentors, and adult volunteers. Have You sent me to help them remember how well-equipped with experience, wisdom…and most importantly love…they already are to respond to the teens in their lives?
What then could I bring? I could be honest about my experiences. I could be humble about my moments of wisdom…and not so wise moments. And I could share my love for teens…and for them.
I hope it was enough.
I am so grateful that in those dark wrestling moments of an endless, sleepless night I can trust that God will send His angels and turn what feels like a "dark cold hotel room" within me, into a warm, cozy home where my heart finds all that it needs to rest upon…and proceed from…Love.