"I need a sign to let me know You're here
All of these lines are being crossed over the atmosphere
I need to know that things are gonna look up
'Cause I feel I'm drowning in a sea spilled from a cup
And I'm calling all angels
I'm calling all you angels..."
I heard Train's "Calling All Angels" tonight, and everything telescoped into a moment of remembering. Like most good stories, it starts, "it was a stormy night..." But it really was. When some years ago, I felt as if I was at the end of what I thought I could endure...emotionally.
For weeks I'd been stumbling through my days in a fog of depression. I felt lonely, sad, and hopeless. And the saddest thing was, that even though I was so lonely, I didn't want to be around real people. All day long, it was the hazy comfort of my bed that whispered her promise to me like a gentle, kind friend...whether I was in my office, driving to appointment, sitting in meetings, or laughing with colleagues. In fact, no matter what I was doing, the only place I really believed I could find peace, and therefore, wanted to be, was in that bed.
It called to me like the snake, Kaa, from Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book, "just come to bed and go to sleep, go to sleep," in a hypnotically soothing voice. I could easily imagine what it would feel like to let the drug-like heaviness of sleep seep through my body, and surrender to rest I thought I'd find in the escape of dreams. I fought back, but it wasn't easy.
Day after day, I would show up for my responsibilities and commitments, but the incessant, dull ache of "if only I could go back to bed," throbbed just under the surface of my smile.
Then one day I couldn't. I just couldn't sleep. At all. And before I knew it, one day turned into two, which turned into ten. Ten days without sleep, or more importantly, without the escape from depression that dreaming promised. And since dreaming only came with sleep. No sleeping, no dreaming. I was a walking zombie...literally.
By day ten, I didn't know what to do, or where to go, to find peace, or even just a little bit of rest. But, because it was a Wednesday night, and "just showing up," had become my default behavior. I headed, wihtout much hope of it making a difference, to church.
I was alone that night. Alone in a city with a veritable plethora of church options, and yet I'd never felt more listless and unmoored. I found myself driving to a familiar part of town...but one that wasn't on my normal radar...and walking into a very small church with only a handful of quiet worshippers. But the minute I sat down, I felt compassion. I sensed a happiness, a quiet peace that was non-invasive but palpably geunine. One woman offered me a soft blanket when she noticed I was shivering. Another asked me if I'd like a cup of water as she crossed the room to get one for herself.
The kindness was not effusive, but it was rich, gentle, and authentic. The hymns, familiar and comforting, were better than dreaming, and the stories of inspiration and healing, shared after the brief, simple readings, were touching and encouraging. I felt as if I were in the company of urban angels. There was no drama, no hierarchy, neither a hesitancy to share honestly, or a chomping at the bit to get the next word in...it was as divinely choreographed as the innocent interplay of children taking turns.
They didn't know that I was ready to collapse with exhaustion, and suffering with acute depression. I didn't say a word that night, but I felt as "listened to" as if I'd poured my heart out and the entire congregation had surrounded me, held my hand, and tenderly dried the tears I was really just too sad, and tired, to even weep that night. No one said a word, or asked a question...but I could feel their openess of heart. It had called to me. Without a word it had invited me to step into their company and rest upon the spiritual love that united them.
I left church, that evening, feeling more rested than I had in weeks. And later I slept peacefully for the first time in days.
Because of a last minute office call, I had to join our church service, remotely, by phone last night. The same tender, sweet persuasion that called me into their congregation years ago, poured, undiluted by technology, through the phone lines....some things never change.
I needed a sign from God, that night...some years ago...to let me know She was in still my life...I found Her heart beating strong, in that company of angels... Uniting with that heavenly host...in silent service, and as an active witness...is a blessing more lovely than dreaming.
I am so grateful...