The houses in my neighborhood are fairly close together. So much so that we can actually catch a glimpse of people inside sharing meals, doing dishes, or even see what they’re watching on television. Having lived in this neighborhood for nearly twenty-five years, and being a relatively private person myself, I like to think that most people learn to avert their eyes and not look at what is meant to be intimate. But in the middle of the night, when I can’t sleep—for those are pretty frequent these days—I prop my chin up on my pillow, gaze out the window at the head of our bed, and look across our backyard and into the back of our neighbor’s home which abuts our property. I try not to, but it’s often lit up and blazing well into the night.

I’ve noticed there is often a man—a middle-aged white guy—sitting at his dining room table, a lone figure under the glare of a chandelier that feels somehow out of place in the early hours of the morning. I’ve thought about this man as a metaphor for where we are as a country right now.

How many of us are alone at the table where decisions are being made? How many of us are awake while the world continues to turn? How many of us soldier on alone, when really what is needed to arouse the masses from their beds on this dark night? How many of us are working alone and making decisions in isolation? How many of us are proceeding with business as usual, when there are others up at night, laboring alone?

Maybe it’s the delirium that can find you in that that not-quite-asleep-but-not-yet-awake time, or maybe it’s the truth of the situation I was feeling. Maybe that’s the invitation on this dark night of our country’s collective soul: to see the empty table and the lone white man sitting at it, working away while all around him, neighbors sleep, and to stay awake.

 

Want to know what these daily verses are all about? Read here to learn what inspired this practice on my birthday post, November 1st.