I’ll know that spring has officially sprung when I can start sleeping with the windows open again. Open windows have always been one of my favorite things. After all – fresh air, sunshine, and maybe even a light breeze if you’re lucky – what more could you ask for, really?
When I was a little girl, I spent many a night drifting off to sleep to the sound of crickets and katydids. My childhood bed was right beside a window, and on cool spring nights, if you listened closely enough, you could even hear the faint hum of the interstate in the distance. Tucked in bed, stories long over and lights finally turned out, I looked on as the glow of the moon welcomed a party of shadows, my imagination issuing me a personal invitation to mingle with monsters. Whenever the wind blew, my white linen curtains danced like ghostly guests, ensuring that I never forgot to turn on my nightlight or say my evening prayers. On nights like this, “Lord, I lay me down to sleep, I pray thee, Lord, my soul to keep” was my frequent petition. Like a scared child calling out for her parents, I wanted to believe that someone bigger and braver than me had it all under control, that God was holding me in God’s benevolent gaze even, and most especially, when I was frightened, alone, and unable to see clearly.
An open window gave me the assurance that my bedroom ceiling could no longer intercept my heartfelt prayers. With the windows open I could trust that my prayers had an escape hatch. Offering my fears to God with a whispered “Amen,” I would lie in bed imagining my prayer gently wafting out my window and floating upward into the starlit sky. Confident that my prayers were directed heavenward, I could close my eyes and listen as the chirping insects and rustling wind competed with the dull drone of the interstate and the sound of the dishwasher running downstairs. Of course, in my child’s mind, the wind always sounded like ghosts wailing in the night, and what my parents promised was just our noisy dishwasher could just as easily have been monsters growling at the door. But I had said my prayers. I was safe and everything was going to be fine, I reminded myself. Even as the evening shadows and the ghostly curtains and the scary noises of the night surrounded me, threatening to steal away any chance of sleep, I knew that I was within God’s loving care.
Amidst all the bumps in the night that, to a little girl, clearly signaled danger, I also heard a sound of comfort, reassurance, and hope. Later my parents explained that it was just the whoosh of traffic on I-64, but back then I was sure that I was hearing the sound of the world turning on its axis. I pictured God as a point guard spinning the globe on his index finger just like I practiced in my driveway each afternoon. Like an expert ball-handler, God never took his eyes off of us, never forgot to give us another spin, and never let us fall. My prayers didn’t keep the world spinning safely while I slept, I realized; God’s love did. And it was within that love that I could find rest.
Emily Rhodes Hunter is serving as one of our pastoral interns at GPPC and is a final-level M.Div student at Union Presbyterian Seminary. She graduated with a B.A. in English from Sewanee: The University of the South, and she is currently a candidate for ordained ministry in the Presbytery of the Peaks.