Awake in the Middle of the Night (Recollection of an Invitation to Remember)

Last night at around 2:30, I found myself very aware and wide awake for no apparent reason. I got myself readjusted for going back to bed and then sat in my bed in the dark, wrapped in my favorite shawl for meditation. I got myself sweetly settled into a practice intended to invite in the sweet support of the satguru (see my previous post on variations of what that might mean for you), which serves well to help a return to sleep on a wakeful night.

After I had been practicing for about five minutes, a slew of emergency vehicles wailed down the street. The emergency was not on my block, but based on the timing of the sirens, it sounded like it was not far away.

I marveled that I was already awake and meditating in a delicious place when the sirens sounded rather than having been jolted awake out of some dreaming. There were enough vehicles that I am sure many if not most people other than the soundest of sleepers for blocks around were woken by them.

In thinking about the auspiciousness of my state, a memory came to mind. Friends Meeting of Washington. Where I often attend Quaker unprogrammed worship, is just west of Connecticut and Florida Aves., NW. Being on such a busy street, even on Sunday morning there can be a lot of traffic noise and having an emergency vehicle drive past with its siren blasting during meeting for worship happens from time to time.

It is, of course, somewhat jarring to be deep in meditation and silence and have a siren start wailing and not pleasant to be woken from deep sleep. One time several years ago when a series of siren-sounding vehicles sped down the street outside the meeting house, a friend stood in meeting after the sirens were gone and said that for him, whenever a siren interrupted his worship, he used it as a reminder to hold those in need in the light. In sharing this reminder, he took us all back from however we reacted to having been loudly interrupted to a grace-full place. I remember having moved back into the depths of silence, offering its healing light-filled energy to whomever had needed the emergency vehicle, those driving the vehicle and attending it, devoting their lives to serving those in need, and to others in my life who were struggling or in pain.

In recalling that beautiful teaching last night, as I also wondered whether at some level I had woken and started practicing to be ready for the event, I thought that what had been so special about the message was that the reminder was not a criticism of whatever reaction might have spontaneously arisen to such a disturbance, but rather an invitation to respond in the best light. The speaker clearly had been reminding himself of his own teaching and sharing with the rest of us how much it helped him.

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