On my bed at night I sought himwhom my heart loves—
I sought him but I did not find him.
I will rise then and go about the city;
in the streets and crossings I will seek
Him whom my heart loves.
I sought him but did not find him.
The watchmen came upon me,
as they made their rounds of the city:
Have you seen him whom my heart loves? (Song of Songs 3:1-3)
The night before, I had taken forever to go to bed. Always one more song on YouTube before I turned my computer off, maybe that would be the thing to still the faint uneasiness I felt somewhere in my stomach. Having talked with friends about relationship issues earlier in the day, I wanted nothing more strongly than to fall in love and be swept off my feet, to give of myself to someone else, either in marriage or in the service of religious life, as long as I was called out of myself by some all-consuming passion.
The next morning, I was scheduled for 6 a.m. Eucharistic adoration. Getting dressed, my head was full of random rants about liturgical pet peeves. This was not good interior preparation. On the bus, with my bag full of prayer equipment (Bible, rosary, breviary, iPod with praise and worship music), I wondered about what I’d do when I got there. What Bible verse would I read? What songs would I play, and would an iPod at adoration annoy the others? I finally just said, “Holy Spirit, let me spend this hour in a way fruitful to myself and whoever else is there.” (Whoever was signed up was invited to lead worship during their hour, if they wanted.)
When I arrived at the crypt chapel where the 24-hour adoration was being held, there were already three women there. My first thought was: these don’t necessarily look like praise and worship types. But then another image hit me: three women at daybreak praying at a tomb. Whoa. But unlike the women who came pray at Jesus’ tomb, who came to mourn and were joyfully surprised by the risen Lord, we came already expecting to meet Him. The power of the Resurrection made us able to go the tomb with the certainty of finding life there, and love. At that moment I knew what Bible passages I would read. Having already listened to the song “Set Me as a Seal on Your Heart” the night before in my YouTube surfing, I turned to the Song of Songs.
I had hardly left themwhen I found him whom my heart loves.
I took hold of him and would not let him go
till I should bring him to the home of my mother,
to the room of my parent.
I adjure you, daughters of Jerusalem,
by the gazelles and hinds of the field,
Do not arouse, do not stir up love
before its own time. (Song of Songs 3:4-5)
Patience, he told me, recalling my thoughts of the night before. I am here. I am always here, waiting for you. Don’t force love. Now is not the time, nor the place. Forcing any vocation to unfold prematurely is not love. Be patient, come rest with me a while. I won’t give up until you find me. Nothing can keep you from loving me in the way most perfect just for you:
Set me as a seal on your heart,as a seal on your arm;
For stern as death is love,
unyielding as the nether world is devotion;
its flames are a blazing fire.
Deep waters cannot quench love,
nor floods sweep it away. (Song of Songs 7:6-7a)
An hour of adoration never went by so fast. Towards the end, I read the passage where Mary Magdalene meets Jesus after the Resurrection:
On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.” So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. [The disciples see that the tomb is empty but do not yet understand that Jesus is risen. They go home.]
But Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping. And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the body of Jesus had been. And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” She thought it was the gardener and said to him, “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.” Jesus said her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,” which means Teacher. Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” Mary of Magdala went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and what he told her. (John 20:1-3, 11-18)
My hour was up. Of course, I could stay longer, but eventually I’d have to get up and go. I couldn’t hold onto this moment forever. But it wouldn’t really be a parting. The great thing about the Eucharist and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is that Jesus stays intimately with us all the time, while our hands our free to reach out to others. Get up, he said, and go tell the world about my Resurrection in everything you do today! Bring my joy to the street-sweeper, the delivery man, the police officer, and you will find me in them!
Bridegroom: O garden-dweller,my friends are listening for your voice,
let me hear it!
Bride: Be swift, my lover,like a gazelle or a young stag
on the mountains of spices! (Song of Songs 8:13-14)