This week, my goal is to transform my baby daughter’s 2 a.m. wake-up call into an opportunity to “stay awake one hour” with the Lord.
by Ryan Langr
My daughter’s cry jolted me out of my dream and I wondered if I wanted to look at the clock. Maybe she made it until the morning? It read 2:00 am. I closed my eyes again and pretended to go back to sleep. Maybe she would fall back asleep in a few minutes (it happens often), or maybe my wife would get up and I could act like I never heard the whole ordeal.
Her cry rang out again, more doleful than the previous–this wasn’t hunger or boredom, it was pain mixed with a little fear. I jumped out of bed not even caring if my wife was awake or not; my little girl needed something and her daddy was going to rescue her. Of course it was her teeth, that dreaded “5-letter word” that teaches children early and reminds parents that pain is often a necessary and unavoidable part of growing up. But at this hour in the morning? Couldn’t those little buggers wait just three more hours to pop through?
Soon my wife came for backup and, frustrated that I couldn’t solve the problem, I went back to bed. The irrational part of me was annoyed at my daughter for waking me up—I had Faith Formation that night, so it was the busiest night of the week for me. How inconsiderate of her. After meditating on this experience for a week, I realize how blessed I am to have had this experience during Lent, and just in time for Holy Week.
In the Garden
It is amazing how often I identify with the Apostles—I deny Christ in ways like Peter, yet sometimes I am overzealous like James and John. But lately my challenge has been to just “stay awake.” When we piece together the Gospel accounts of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, we see a man who is in intense pain yet praying for strength to do his Father’s will. All he asks of his friends is to stay awake for an hour and pray with him. Lately, my daughter has been like Christ, asking, “Stay awake with me, Daddy.” Like Peter, James, and John in the garden, I am weak. I cannot even stay awake with my daughter for an hour to pray through her pain, and to bear it with compassion. In my selfishness, my biggest goal is to hand her off to my wife so I can sleep more. Now, I pray Christ will give me the grace to power through my lack of sleep.
My goal for Holy Week and Easter is to treat these moments with my daughter, no matter when they occur, as an opportunity to live Christ’s Passion which started in the garden. It is to hold her, pray over her, cry with her, as she suffers pains, nightmares, or whatever else she may be going through. These are blessings, for not only is it an opportunity to practice sacrifice, but it forms a bond with my daughter and helps me to more fully live the passion of Christ—something which all vocations are called to do in their own way.
I invite you to enter into the garden with me. Maybe your child wakes up for feeding multiple times during the night. Maybe they have colic, are teething, or just refuse to sleep. In solidarity, let us us stay awake together and unite these sacrifices and our prayers to the Passion of Christ. It really can be a blessing to stay awake with your child.