"Here I am, Lord"
January 28, 2006
[This is from almost two weeks ago, but I didn't get around to posting it. Today was a good time to post it - since all three children are sick, I'm certainly not writing.]
Now, if you don’t believe that God speaks to people, then you probably want to just skip this one. I find it hard to believe that God speaks to people when there are so many other things He could be doing, but my experience contradicts that.
Anyway, all week I’ve been planning on going to the Episcopalian church to worship and to hear my older son sing. I haven’t been there since before Christmas because I’ve had very bad asthma problems lately, and they’ve been using incense. But I thought they’d be done with the incense by now.
However, I found out from the church e-mail loop yesterday that today was going go be a solemn service – meaning sung, with bells and incense. I even considered going anyway to see if I could handle the incense – but, as my son said, “Do you want to get tennis elbow in your other arm?” (meaning “Do you want to make your problem worse” – referring to a time when my father had tennis elbow in the right arm, taught himself how to play tennis left-handed, and ended up with tennis elbow in both arms. I have a tendency to do that sort of thing too).
So, the Episcopalian church was out. I could drop my older son off and head to my other church – the Catholic one I’ve written about which is only ten minutes away. But I’ve been feeling tired and stressed out the last few days (and even had a few dizzy spells), and I ended up thinking that maybe my husband should just go and drop our older son off. That’s where we left it last night.
But, as I dropped off to sleep, I told God, “If I really should go, do something to tell me.”
My alarm radio is set to the classical station, and, usually on Sundays, I wake up to their “Great Sacred Classics” program. However, either my clock was fast, or the previous program ran over a few minutes, because they were on the last few minutes of the earlier program, “Singing for Joy.” And the hymn that was playing was a beautifully harmonized choral version of “Here I am, Lord.” It’s one of my favorites of the modern Catholic hymns.
It comes from the story of Samuel, in the book of First Samuel. He is a young boy, being trained at the Temple. He is woken up one night by a voice. He runs to the priest, Eli, and says, “Here I am.” The priest tells him that he didn’t call – go back to bed. This happens three times, then Eli realizes what is happening. He tells Samuel to go back to bed, and, when he hears the voice, he should say, “Speak, Lord, for Thy servant is listening.”
The hymn is one of the modern Catholic ones that goes back and forth between God’s Voice (in the verses) and our response (in the chorus):
I the Lord of sea and sky
I have heard my people cry.
All who dwell in dark and sin
My hand will save.
Here I am, Lord
Is it I, Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord if You lead me.
I will hold Your people in my heart.
So, having been called out of sleep by this hymn, I decided to listen and go to church. I dropped my son off at the Episcopalian church and headed over to Mass.
For the last few weeks, Brother M., a monk from from Charlotte has been filling in for Father C. At first, although I was glad that Father C. was getting a break, I was disappointed that he wasn’t going to be there because I find his homilies very encouraging. I leave Mass with hope and energy to go out and do things. But, Brother M.’s whole demeanor and his homily were wonderful too (“We have blessed our watches and put them away. This is sacred time – and you don’t mind if Mass is 75 or 90 minutes long!” Today’s Mass was 90).
He also mentioned, in his very long homily, that he enjoyed being a monk partly because it gave him time to read, pray and reflect. This I also found very encouraging: "You mean, those of us who like to do that can be Christians? The Christian life doesn't always have to be one of frantically running here and there?!"
I was very glad I went. Instead of coming home tired from driving around, I came home full of energy, and with five posts that I want to write!
[I like this hymn so much that I once translated the refrain into French – probably not the best French, but anyway…
Ici moi, Dieu.
Est-il moi, Dieu
J’ecoute Votre appel dans la nuit.
Je viens, Dieu si Vous m’apportez
Je tiens Vos peuples dans ma couer]