Lauds

Max Saeling

3:27 a.m.

I’m awake in the wee hours of the night. The house is dark. I walk gently so that the creak of these old floors won’t rouse those I love. I step onto our back porch and gaze at the starlit sky, breathing clean air. For weeks, this weeping world has writhed and groaned with the wounds of violent history and raging pandemic and a thousand shades of anguish. 

But the world’s quiet now, for this one moment, with only the sound of crickets and frogs and the distant rumble of a train. I stand on the porch, wanting to know that this beautiful, aching world holds fast, that she’s still here, that we have not finally destroyed her—and each other with her. I need to know that she remains held by the mercy that has watched over us all from the beginning, cradled by the love that has carried us through so many toils and snares. I need to know that we are still nurtured by the kindness that—in spite of our persistent ignorance and foolishness and wickedness—refuses to let us go. Relentless mercy and love and kindness…in spite of us. It’s a wonder, isn’t it? 

And here I sit, and I see that the hour is Lauds—that ancient, before-dawn office of prayer. Maybe all this has been a prayer. A groaning prayer too deep for words. But I’m searching for words now.

Help us, God. Some of us are unable—or unwilling—to see the evil we’ve done. Some of us despair, no longer believing the evil can be undone. Some of us turn cold toward those who weep. Some of us can’t stop the tears. Some of us have abandoned justice and righteousness. Some of us have abandoned mercy and hope. Some of us fear what repentance might ask of us. Some of us fear what love might require.  

But all of us—all of us—are in desperate need for the mercy. God, hold us and renew us and show us our foolishness, the destructive ways we do not want to acknowledge, the clear-eyed freedom we’d know if we’d just relinquish whatever we hold with our iron grip. Teach us that we need not fear. Show us how to live whole and free and joyful. We’ve proven absolutely incapable of doing any of this on our own. I’m going to try to sleep now, again. I trust that the world will keep breathing, the stars keep twinkling, the crickets keep chirping, that the three I love in this house remain under your care, that this world I love, and all my sisters and brothers, rests under your care.

Amen. Goodnight.

13 Replies to “Lauds”

  1. The tenderness and the raw vulnerability of this piece touched me deeply. I have definitely been there, looking up into stars and listening to crickets and frogs as the moon gazes over this side of the earth for a few hours while I grieve and sometimes twist in the wind and try to release and repent and breathe….is there even going to be a tomorrow I sometimes wonder as I plan and cry and grow a little distant to my fellow men…Thank you so much. I appreciate you

  2. Thanks, Winn, I appreciate the humility in your prayer. I have spoken to friends over the last couple of weeks who just can’t comprehend that their long held views could be wrong.

    I share your prayer for safety for your family. My oldest son is in DC and I have been very aware of the unrest there.

    I love your writing style. Thanks for sharing your heart.

  3. Someone once said,”Even in silence and darkness, the heart can see more beauty than the eyes.”
    Perhaps, if we spent more time in silence and darkness, we too, would realize we need for God’s mercy in our lives.

  4. Thank you for expressing emotions and thoughts many of us have but cannot express them as eloquently and real as you.

words have a way of making friends. drop a few here.