Every night, as I lay me down to sleep, I pray a prayer I learned three years ago. It starts, “Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night.”
I started praying it every night early in the pandemic. It was how I could remember coworkers -RNs, tech, physicians – working through the night in intensive care. It was how I could remember my chaplain friends. It was how I could remember the families. It was how I could release faces to God.
Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity, the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.
Friday night, I was sick. It seldom happens, it was sudden, and it’s past. But I got to the phrase “tend the sick.” And I smiled and went to sleep.
There is value in not having to be original, in letting the prayer remind you of what you are asking.
(Tish Harrison Warren has written about her interaction with this prayer and with life very well).
Today, Ben is 1 year old. When his parents and grandparents gathered the night before, I said, “God. A year ago tonight, some of us were scared. And tonight we are grateful for this Ben in our lives.” A few hours before, I had been with a family, standing by the bed of a grandparent my age. They had done everything they could to love their grandkids. And their kids.
We live in that tension all the time, if we’re honest.
When Ben was born, I read him a word from Frederick Buechner. It feels truer all the time.
The grace of God means something like: “Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are, because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you. Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid. I am with you. Nothing can ever separate us. It’s for you I created the universe. I love you.”
There’s only one catch. Like any other gift, the gift of grace can be yours only if you’ll reach out and take it.