To be honest, I stumbled through the first weeks of parenthood. The three kids never slept more than four hours at a time — and never the same four hours between them. Getting two consecutive hours of sleep was nothing short of a miracle. Getting more than three meant resorting to childcare.
And yet, in the middle of the night I experienced some of the unexpected perks of motherhood as well. Alone in their rooms, the children called for me and let me take care of them. I could rock them. Hold them. Sing to them. Love them. During the day, they huddled together and endured my efforts to tend to their needs. At night, I was truly “the mommy.”
This weekend’s reading from the book of First Samuel (3:3-10) reminded me of those early morning/late night encounters. Three times, young Samuel heard a voice, and ran to the side of his spiritual father, Eli. “Here I am! …” and then, “Speak, your servant is listening.”
Eli’s sons were unjust men, who brought great grief to their father and their God. It was Samuel, whose parents lovingly dropped him off at the Temple when he was still a small boy, who received the spiritual heritage of that great high priest. The old man must have felt like a failure on many levels — how could he explain the moral depravity of his own children? Yet, when God gave him a second chance in the person of young Samuel, Eli took it.
“Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” How often does God give us a second, unexpected chance? How many times have we gotten bogged down in our own sense of failure … and then catch a whiff of grace? In the still of the night, as we soothe our children and doze on the edge of dreamland, will we catch that divine whisper as well?