A special bond links those who labor by night. Few volunteer to lay their energies down on the dark side of the day’s cycle. Usually extraneous considerations have made it necessary, often unpleasant ones. The world looks different from the angle of nighttime work. People who have seen it understand this and become part of a loosely-linked tribe defined by its members’ shared nocturnal experience.
A psalm speaks to those whose temple assignment finds them waking to their nightly duties while others retire. Fittingly, it is brief and spun of well-wishing:
Come, bless the LORD, all you servants of the LORD,
who stand by night in the house of the LORD!
Lift up your hands to the holy place,
and bless the LORD.
May the LORD, maker of heaven and earth,
bless you from Zion.
One thinks of the night attendant breaking the monotony by mouthing these words quietly from the shadows. He lifts his hand towards the most holy place. From his solitude he blesses the Lord. No one knows except the unseen God who receives the blessing and, more often than not, returns it in grace.
Those, too, who labor through the soul’s dark night recognize each other. From their shadow, they raise a hand towards a holy place. Quietly their lips form their blessing, shaped by darkness, spoken quietly as befits the night and its sounds that carry far.
May it, too, be returned from Zion, speeded to its destination by the maker of heaven and earth. May it rest gently on the shoulder of the one who stands alert in his corner while others sleep, unknowing.