Awake when I shouldn’t be

High Marnham Power StationI can’t sleep tonight. I woke up with a jolt around 2.30 am, it’s now 3.50 and I’ve come downstairs and made a cuppa. I’ve retreated into the mess that is my study, and have realised with a  jolt that I’ve scarcely set foot in here for over two weeks. My recycling bin has one piece of paper sitting forlornly in the bottom – unheard of – normally I lob paper in the approximate direction, and weekly gather it all up properly.

It’s an odd time of night. When I worked shifts, 4am (0400) was well and truly time to eat, time to chat (by phone when I worked alone), and there was always a comradeship about being part of the army that keeps the world ticking over while most people are asleep. The radio would be on, and I’d listen to stories from other people in other industries, all up and functioning, checking this, making that, transporting the other. It was a time to catch up with friends around the industry, a time to study in the quiet moments, a time to make the decisions, a time to do the routines. I enjoyed working nights. I liked the autonomy, of being part of something bigger than me, and, let’s be honest, I liked the peace of no-one in the offices, as well as the challenges that arose unexpectedly.

Tonight (this morning) I’m reminded of the call to watch, to be alert at all times for signs of the kingdom of God, to warn others. That’s a very different enterprise from the generation and transmission of electricity, and yet there are similarities with the night shift. Mostly alone, following the routines, watching for the unexpected, and working out the impact….do I wake the press officer or duty manager? Should the watch(wo)man sound the trumpet? There are judgments to be made, and others out there in the darkness doing similar jobs.

What do I watch for tonight? I watch with prayer for those nervous about water levels, and for those frightened for their homes. But I watch for those using food banks, those relying on carers with ever shorter timeslots, those dependent on benefits which are being tested by people under pressure. I watch for a government which has decided ‘money is no object’ for flood relief (which may well be right) but which has not made the same decision for the hungry or the homeless. I watch…and I think it’s time to sound the trumpet.



4 responses to “Awake when I shouldn’t be

  1. My experience of working nights was much the same, although in a different sphere. Many times when I was in junior positions, I would be keeping watch, on Guard either patrolling or dug into a trench on some foreign plain, practicing for the occasion when the Russian hordes might descend upon us. Later on it was going out at night to deliver supplies to vulnerable positions under cover of darkness, quietly moving and navigating, often across country with no lights to advanced detachments on hills or high points where they were watching and communicating the possible enemy intentions or just maintaining the communications network as a relay station.

    Later still, in a more senior position I’d be sitting in a command post, listening to two or three radio channels, noting messages and making decisions on my own authority, or referring them to someone higher up the pecking order to make the decision needed. In this role it was about building a picture based on information received on a possible enemies movements or future intentions and to deploy our own assets in either a defensive or aggressive posture dependent upon the commanders intentions to basically win. Losing might be a consequence, but watchfulness and preparedness was essential – it’s in the early dawn that any position or individuals are at their most vulnerable and can be off guard.

    This in it’s own way relates to the gospel parables about the virgins keeping their lamps full and alight, as they won’t know when the master might come. Jesus tells us to be watchful, to be prepared as we won’t know when he will come again, although Revelation gives us some useful portends, if we read them carefully.

    When I look around the world and see war, famine, natural disaster after natural disaster and man’s general inhumanity for each other, I wonder are we seeing those portends, or are they warning signs for us to mend our ways – we appear to be off guard! We appear to be so concerned about our human condition that we’re ignoring the signs all around us which point us towards how the Kingdom of God could be if only we turned and repented. Sadly, the signs are the reverse. We, consumed by our own worldly concerns are ignoring Jesus’ call and mission to us to feed the hungry, protect the weak, clothe the naked and visit prisoners – we do this knowingly through governments actions and by our own selfish devotion to our own needs to the detriment of others.

    When Lord, When Lord, will we adopt that watchfulness care and preparedness that brings about your mission and Kingdom, here and now?

    I pray that it’s soon!

  2. Loud and clear. Let’s hope the right people hear it. Governments are good at making headline grabbing statements under pressure, it’s looking at the bigger picture they seem to fail at every time. Addressing the underlying problems of our society would lay the foundation for a truly just and forward looking style of government. Sadly, not one I expect to see in my lifetime.

    On Fri, Feb 14, 2014 at 4:17 AM, Rev’d Claire

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