“Where are you going?” He asks, in a voice muffled with sleep, a voice just on the edge of awareness.
My hand stills on the doorknob. I turn back toward him, not much more than a shadow.
“I’m goi–I can’t sleep.” My voice falls lightly. “I need to—I don’t want to keep you awake,” I say. In the jagged hours, even my sentences suddenly break open, startled, jerked. I feel out of order and incomplete.
He reaches for me. It’s something I feel. In the darkness, I can’t quite make out the slope of bicep, the angle of elbow.
I pause, considering, but only for a moment. God gathers and joins; the enemy alienates. I drift back to the bed, moored, and it is a relief. In the black night–those still, empty hours, the space between the bed and the door feels like a void, a barren netherworld into which I will slowly disseminate. But even before I settle into the curve of his arm, I feel Love drawing together the fissures of thought, corraling the haunting fragments of trouble. That’s the moment when I start to cry.
He gathers me tightly and rubs my arm with his hand, solid, strong, gentle. It’s a gesture that says so many things at once—I’m here; I love you; I know.
He doesn’t need me to explain what hurts or how. He doesn’t try to fix it. I feel him awake beside me, wordlessly praying. My thoughts tumble madly, scattered shards. Why does this always happen in the thinness of night? Why the rumination-storm, ripping things up by the roots? I feel angry at the interruption, weary, robbed. Robbed. The thief comes to steal. So that’s what this is. My mind is all turmoil, roiling murk, grain in a sieve. But he anchors me. HE anchors me. His arms hem me in. They are the boundary between this transient trouble and the hope that far outweighs it. In Him, all things hold together–Christ is the tether—and together we, Kevin and quaking-me, wide awake in the dark—we are the mystery of Christ and the church.
Because in the wicked darkness, God reaches for me. It’s something I feel, because in all that dead-black I can’t quite make out the lines of His magnificent arms. But even before I settle into His embrace, the touch of His fingers on my arm—solid, strong, gentle—I feel Love drawing together the fissures of thought, corraling the haunting fragments of trouble. That’s the moment when I begin to pray.
I trust you. I trust you. I trust you.
It’s the only thought that comes completely, the only way I know to relax and just be held. I feel desperate to fall asleep again–Please Lord, grant me sleep–but the jagged edges of things threaten to distract me, to swallow me. They are the mad wind frothing up the waves just as I take some steps of faith.
I trust you. I trust you, I trust you.
I pray, willing myself to focus there, on that certainty.
And He breathes, Peace. I’m here; I love you; I know.
And finally, the thought-winds still, and I let go. I fall asleep with his arms around me, HIS arms. Held.