My old friend Insomnia. I had caffeine at supper. I've brought this on myself.
The streetlights can't pierce the absolute blackness of the world outside my windows. The surrounding houses block out the stars that could give me comfort. Anxiety, nameless dread, fears for myself and my loved ones snake into my heart from the menacing shadows that crawl the walls of each room I wander through alone.
I try to pray as I walk. "God, help!" But the levels of anxiety rise in my dark heart with the pitiless intensity of storm waters.
I sit in the living room and try to read. My mind can't get settled, even though books are my first and best refuge in the middle of the night. I go into the study, get on my computer, check out Facebook. I read a few posts, but even though anxiety has adrenalin pounding through my body, I'm too tired to concentrate for long.
I go to my downloads to check out photos that might work for my next blog post. And there it is: the beautiful vessel with sleek sails, leaning into the wind beneath clear blue skies, foam -covered waves surging around it,
"The Lord is my Light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life - of whom shall I be afraid?" (Psalm 27.)
And God begins to speak softly into my dark, fear-ridden heart:
"I am that Vessel. I am the Helm, steering passage safely through the roughest waters, day and night. I am the Sails, drawing the power of never-failing winds. If you remain in Me, there is no reason, no cause, that you should fear anything. Leave the travel, the journey, to Me. Let Me carry you, for I Am the Way.
" Lie on My Deck. Feel my safe, sturdy Wood beneath your face and body. Smell the fresh tang of wind and water. Be lulled to sleep by My gentle rocking and the lullaby of wind and waves around you. You can sleep safely, for I never sleep, and I am your Fortress: the strong Walls and Floor and Helm and Sails of protection around you."
The image is so powerful that I enter my guest bedroom, crawl onto the bed, pull blankets around me. I close my eyes, my rosary in my hands, my hands holding the cross of the One Who endured His own hours of darkness and fear in the Garden of Gethsemane.
But I am not enclosed in a garden. I am free on the waters, lying on the deck of a Mighty Ship, Which is carrying me safely, unerringly through the darkness on a course set ultimately for my eternal home. And I gently fall asleep to the lullaby of wind and waves.