Editor’s note: This week’s post was originally published as a Marriage Moat. Lori writes these messages and sends them as weekday emails as well as posting them on social media. Throughout the year we’ll be sharing a few of our favorites.
One of the songs for children that I wrote in my early twenties was about Samuel. The little boy was woken in the night by a voice calling his name. Assuming that it was the high priest Eli, Samuel ran into the next room to find him. But Eli assured him that he did not call, and to go back to bed. Three times Samuel hurried in before Eli realized that it had been the voice of God.
I recall a time that the minister described the disparity between what our heart hears, represented by Samuel, and what Eli knows, who is like our understanding. Samuel was a small boy. Eli was a judge. An inner voice can beckon us with innocence, trust, forgiveness, even while such a response is not easily justified.
An example he used was to speak a word in the Zimbabwe tongue. No one knew it, yet he used simple gestures to embellish it, and by the fourth time we guessed that it meant woman.
The messages we receive from prayer can be confusing. Incomplete. We may be at a loss to explain our own response. But perhaps explanation is not the pinnacle of spiritual life. Is a spray of water droplets more beautiful if we narrate their fall?
There was a time when John and I were facing an enormous challenge. We each processed in our own ways, unable to really support one another because we were both unsteady. One day I asked him point blank.
“What do you think???”
He paused as only an Odhner can.
“I am trying not to think.”
I was stunned. And yet years later, it fits like a well worn shoe you lost under the bed last summer, and never quite gave up on finding. There are times when our answers do not come packaged in syllables.