Something holy in the darkness

prayer-beadsSome nights, I wake up around three.

I wake up with a sense of alarm or urgency.

The room seems shadowy and ominous.

Forgotten tasks on my to-do list surround me, unearthed from my unconscious while I slept. Worries that seemed manageable during the day become fat monsters, sliding their bellies around the room, claws dragging, teeth sharp as glass shards.

I want to go back to sleep. I know I can do little about any of these troubles at three a.m. The middle of the night is no time to let fear take the reins.

So I pray.

I keep prayer beads in a wooden bowl next to the bed. I hold them in the darkness and let prayer soften the edges of my anxiety.

I pray the simple prayers I know by heart. Sometimes I pray the Lord’s prayer but more often, “all is well.” I pray for anyone who comes to mind: people I love or strangers I only saw in a momentary exchange.

I pray and relax, accepting the time as a sacred slice in my life too full of rushing. My fingers on each bead bring me back to a steady rhythm.

Instead of panicking about my lack of sleep, I enjoy the quiet of the house. I hear smooth breathing around me and feel body warmth. The house rests. The cool night offers relief and peace. The world goes on in its worldly way.

I remember others are awake somewhere too. I pray for them. May they be well. May they be happy. May they be calm.

May they know love.

I roll each bead in my finger, a little piece of earth grounding me. The word bead comes from the word for prayer.

prayer-beads-hangingI tell myself that if I don’t go back to sleep, a few hours praying will be time well spent. The room offers a soft murkiness that seems gentle. The worries nibbling me no longer have sharp teeth. I can ignore them.

I wake in the morning with prayer beads still in my hand. The round stones are warm. I wake feeling blessed and calm.

We can resist the 3 a.m. insomnia and fight the darkness. Turn on the light and fuss.

We can accept being awake and recognize it as a time for the holy.

Just pray. Just listen. Just soften.

This is the choice.

8 thoughts on “Something holy in the darkness

  1. I love this! What a wonderful post. Lately when I wake up I choose what I will dream about next from the alphabet: A = adorable anteaters, etc. I learned so much from what you wrote — that bead comes from the word for prayer.

  2. What a beautiful description of the sacred quite awakening in the night. I love this line “The worries nibbling me no longer have sharp teeth.” And you are in good company, in the night when many pray “may all be well, may all know love.”
    thank you for continuing to share from your heart.

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