Prayer . . . is listening to the voice that calls us "My Beloved." - Henri Nouwen
My husband wakes, alone, in the early morning dark. While the rest of us sleep, he lets the dog out, rekindles a fire in the wood stove, and turns on the coffee pot. By the time I stumble down, he's often sitting, cross-legged, in the arm chair closest to the stove, with his eyes closed. With a timer set on his phone, he endeavors to start the day in silent prayer.
But, he is no monk in a cell alone.
I wander through, on the way to the bathroom, then back again with a full cup of coffee in hand. Then, my daughter’s alarm clock goes off and she staggers blindly into the living room as well. The dog, of course, leaves her seat and clatters around, needing a greeting from every new entrant into the room.
His morning prayer is rarely silent, often interrupted, even though his eyes remain closed.
The other morning, before the lights were on, my husband sat in his quietening chair and I sat near the base of the stairs, scrolling on my phone. Then, out of the darkness, six-year-old Levi yelled from the top of the stairs, “Dad? Dad?”
Wanting to preserve my husband's silence, I answered for him, “What Levi?”
“Where’s Dad? Is he still home? Is he going to work today?” Levi belted his questions, like a winter storm flinging hail.
“Yes,” I said, stealing a glance at my husband, whose eyes were now open. “It’s early. Daddy’s still home, but he’s going to work in a little while. What do you need?”
“I want to say goodbye to him,” he called.
I looked again at my husband, seated by the stove, and he nodded his head.
“What Levi?” he called.
“Goodbye Dad, I love you! I’ll see you tonight!” Levi said, “Thanks for helping with my Valentines.”
“Goodbye, Levi. I love you too. I’ll see you tonight, sweetie,” my husband replied.
Then, from the shadows, came Levi’s twin brother's voice, “Goodbye Dad, I love you! I’ll see you tonight!”
“Goodbye, Isaiah. I love you too. I’ll see you tonight, sweetie.” my husband replied.
All semblance of prayer was lost as they scampered back to their beds. As my husband turned off his timer and prepared to leave for work, it occurred to me that, despite numerous interruptions, his time of silence was also exactly how prayer should be. Not the absence of sound, but a listening quietly in the dark for the presence, the voice of love. How very lucky we are when that voice descends not once, but twice, clothed in the voice of a six-year-old child.
May you find the voice of Love descending on you today in unexpected ways.