Tuesday, June 5, 2018

I had difficulty sleeping last night. I laid in bed looking around the room. I could see by the dim light coming through the window the books on my dresser and the clean, unfolded clothes piled up on the chair in the corner. My husband breathed deeply next to me, our fingers laced over one another's like they always are as we fall asleep. After squeezing his hand one last time before letting go, I turned over and faced toward my bathroom. It was then that I noticed again a dim glow but this time it was not coming from the moon outside. A nightlight gently lit the room.

I remember the first few months after my daughter was born when I was up in the middle of the night feeding her. I bought my first nightlights then, plugging them into various outlets around the apartment so the darkness seemed less scary, less lonely. Those nightlights still light pathways from my kids room to mine, in case they need to find me in the night. The nightlights still light the kitchen for midnight drinks of water. They still keep me company on sleepless nights as witness to my restless mind and silent prayers.

As I looked out my bedroom door to my dimly light living spaces, I felt an overwhelming sense of comfort. Here was my home, my safe place wrapped in peace. Everyone was asleep, breathing deeply. I was alone in my wakefulness and yet surrounded by moonlight and night lights, my friends in the darkness.

My friend asked me earlier in the day how I was doing. I explained that truthfully, I currently am having difficulty engaging with any of my "feeling" capacities, which greatly stunts my creativity, my ability to interact spiritually, and many human capacities I normally pride myself on such as compassion, empathy, receptiveness, vulnerability, and desire to connect. As I thought further on it that night, I realized part of this may be due to a recent change in my OCD medication and part of it to my natural cycle. Usually in late spring and early summer my writing slows down as my mind shifts to other creative outlets. I also tend to lose interest in spiritual subjects for a while, focusing my efforts on temporal topics and physical acts like exercise, creation, and cleaning.

Instead of freaking out and worrying that I'm losing my spirituality or all my talents, I feel relaxed and accepting of the process. A huge part of this attitude can be attributed to my understanding of my cyclical nature. Moods like this have happened at this time of year before and it will probably happen next summer too. So instead of pushing my way through and beating myself up with my stick of perfection, I put down my keyboard and my pen and let myself rest. 

I tend to think of a spiritual person as always alight, basically on fire. Their testimony burns inside them. The flame of truth licks their tongues as they speak. Their hearts are warmed by the heat of a burning bush. Being a beacon, a pillar of flame is great for spreading light and searing in the savor of truth, but these last few months have taught me that being on fire is unsustainable for long periods of time. 

For all the love and talk of burning bosoms, I like to think God likes nightlights. 

His signature is inked in the things that provide a little light here and there. A prayer. A sacrament. A verse. A friend. 

The lower lights are outshone in daytime, when warm fuzzies and light are plentiful. But in the darkness where is comfort found?

In the gentle glitter of the night sky. 

When I wake in the night surrounded by a chill and fear of the great Alone,
the stars,
like nightlights,
paint my world in soft reminders.

Here are your friends:
the trees
the lizards
the earth.

Here is your family:
sleeping peacefully in a bed
which was nested promise by promise,
feathered with forgiveness.

Here is your life:
a pen resting on an open page beside
your very first marked book
with a gifted Chinese bookmark between its pages.

Here is your pain:
a bottle of Luvox on your counter and
you, still awake on the couch,
busy remembering.

Here is your hope:
Mrs. Annie, the old lady stranger
you met at the thrift store last July.
There is still time to invite her to Sunday dinner.

Here is your healing:
late nights, laughter and tears shared with friends,
Early morning snuggles with your babies in soft blankets,
freshly baked bread and your husband's kiss on your bare shoulder.
© Channing B. Parker. Design by FCD.