This morning I was awakened by a little one who had had a bad dream. This is a usual occurrence. Sometimes she needs me to accompany her to the bathroom at 1am, other times she needs help filling a sippy at 2am, or perhaps she needs tissues at 3am. Each instance calls for the same routine. I gently put her back to bed once her needs are addressed. Today, it was close enough to morning, but not quite time for my alarm to go off. I stayed up with her and read the daily readings to her. A part of me hoped she would fall back to sleep.
In today's first reading, Samuel is called by God in the middle of the night. When I was a child, I found this to be very exciting. Wow! I hope God calls me like that!
As a parent I think, poor Eli is never going to get any rest. And yet, Eli never lost his patience with Samuel, he sent the boy back to bed until he figured out what was going on, and then he gave the boy the proper instruction.
In a way as a parent, I am both Samuel being woken up in the middle of the night to do God's will, and I am Eli being woken up in the middle of the night to do God's will.
The Lord called Samuel again, for the third time. Getting up and going to Eli, he said, "Here I am. You called me." Then Eli understood that the Lord was calling the youth. So Eli said to Samuel, "Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply, 'Speak, Lord, for you servant is listening.'" When Samuel went to sleep in his place, the Lord came and revealed His presence, calling out as before, "Samuel, Samuel!" Samuel answered, "Speak, for you servant is listening." 1 Sam 3: 9-10