I Have Heard You Calling in the Night

Joshua Reynolds “The Infant Samuel”

Spiritual Sunday

 One of my favorite hymns is inspired by today’s Old Testament reading about God awakening the child Samuel in the night. Poet Rita Hawkins imagines an interchange between God and someone who has opened his or her heart to listen:

Here I Am, Lord

By Rita Hawkins

I, the Lord of sea and sky, 
I have heard my people cry.
All who dwell in dark and sin, 
My hand will save.

I, who made the stars of night, 
I will make their darkness bright.
Who will bear my light to them? 
Whom shall I send? 

Here am I, Lord. Is it I, Lord? 
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart.

I, the Lord of snow and rain, 
I have borne my people’s pain.
I have wept for love of them.
They turn away.

I will break their hearts of stone, 
Give them hearts for love alone.
I will speak my words to them.
Whom shall I send? 

Here am I, Lord. Is it I, Lord? 
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart.

I, the Lord of wind and flame, 
I will send the poor and lame.
I will set a feast for them.
My hand will save.

Finest bread I will provide, 
‘Til their hearts be satisfied.
I will give my life to them.
Whom shall I send? 

Here am I, Lord. Is it I, Lord? 
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart. 

Catherine Ann Lombard also alludes to the passage although her respondent, perhaps more realistically, at first resists the call. The change that God offers may be what we want and need but that doesn’t mean we open ourselves to it as readily as Samuel does. It’s easier to stay with what is familiar, however unhappy we may be:

Here I Am Lord

By Catherine Ann Lombard

Here I am Lord.
In your fire again.
Under the weight of
your golden hammer.
As you once again
try to forge me into
a full human being.

Here I am Lord.
Frightened and weeping again.
Under the weight of
your awesome Love.
As you once again
try to embrace me into
the beauty of
who I am.

Here I am Lord.
Raging resistant again.
Under the fierce Light of
your omnipresence.
As you once again
try to bathe me in
your mercy,
shadows redeemed.

I am here Lord.
Inching closer to Joy.
Under the guidance of
your mysterious hand.
As you once again
try to nudge me towards
wholeness
and my place
in this world.

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