Sleepless

Have you ever felt guilty for laughing at night
when you knew of a terrible tragedy?
The momentary mirth feels like a rude intrusion
into a sacred time of mourning for a dear friend.

Have you ever felt ashamed for feeling grief
in the middle of a time of rejoicing with friends?
Even if your heart sinks only for a minute,
that minute feels like a violation of joy.

I wondered, as a teenager, lying in bed and waiting for sleep
if others knew the same loneliness that stalked me day and night.
I wondered whether the day’s victories and defeats and the resulting emotions
could be valid in a world full of others’ stories.

Was I happy and satisfied as others lay weeping tears of pain?
Were others oblivious as I felt utterly alone?
Logic told me that joy could not be held hostage to others’ pain
– that each must embrace goodness as we find it,
even if at that very moment others too far for us to reach
are cold or hungry or sick.

There are too many stories for a human being
to know and carry the full weight of them all.
The knowledge that gives some hope tonight
is the same knowledge that fills others with despair.

All the time, dawn sweeps onward –
sometimes pink and sometimes grey.
All the time, noon rolls on
and each of us have different clouds.
All the time, midnight surrounds
– for some a blanket, for others a cell.

The human family across the planet,
separated by belief, bound together by blood,
billions of hearts beating out of sync.
Here we are together.
Here we are apart.

None of us knows what God is doing.
We watch precious lives fade
while others which do not value themselves or others
last decades beyond what we hoped for those dear to us.

We see children born to those who do not want them
as others who long for a child are denied again.
We see some succeed without effort
whose only thought is themselves
while at the same time others who would give everything away
go decades without knowing how to make ends meet.

Somewhere, someone lies alone in a hospital.
Somewhere, someone has fallen in love.
Somewhere, a painter is mastering their technique.
Somewhere, someone is learning to read.

Babies feed at mothers’ breasts.
Husbands struggle to find enough sleep to make it through another day.
Sweethearts picnic together.
Soldiers fight to defend good.
Soldiers fight to destroy others’ lives.
Friendships are restored.
Relationships are betrayed.
Forgiveness is bestowed.
Grudges go on, boiling the bones of those in their clutches.
Some fight to make the truth known.
Some knowingly mislead and decieve.

Some cry out for wisdom
while others have never considered that they do not have it.

Whether you feel so sick that you wonder if you are dying today
or you feel more full of life than you ever have before.
Please remember those around you.

If you have just cause for anger,
please take your complaint to God.

If you are in need of forgiveness,
I hope that you offer your apology freely,
I hope that you ask God to give you strength to change.
I hope that your relationship will be restored.

Amidst the deep wounds,
amidst the fullness of wonder,
as the planets revolve,
as the tide swells,
as the meanings of texts are computed
in the mind of mankind and parsed by machine
wherever you are now
I hope you find God
waiting for you.

The one true and living God.
Our Heavenly Father.

May He sing over you.
May He touch you and heal you.
May He cleanse your mind, body, and soul
whether you have kept the law or broken it.

Cast your cares on God
because He cares for you.

Whether you can scarcely dare to dream that your life is real
or you have felt trapped in a nightmare,
may you find God near to you
and may He bless you deeply.

May He grow your hopes
and be your protection against those who would harm you.