The grass never sleeps.
Or the roses.
Nor does the lily have a secret eye that shuts until morning.
Jesus said, wait with me. But the disciples slept.
The cricket has such splendid fringe on his feet,
and it sings, have you noticed, with its whole body,
and heaven knows if it ever sleeps.
Jesus said, wait with me. And maybe the stars did, maybe
the wind wound itself into a silver tree, and didn't move,
the lake far away, where once he walked as on a
lay still and waited, wild awake.
Oh the dear bodies, slumped and eye-shut, that could not
keep that vigil, how they must have wept,
so utterly human, knowing this too
must be a part of the story.
(Mary Oliver, from Thirst)
When Jesus said "wait with me," I take it he did not mean to simply stay as opposed to leave. He meant stay awake, be alert, watch, be expectant -- He asked the disciples to have a Godward awareness. And yet, they slept.
I know how they must have felt. Close your eyes to pray and it's an invitation to sleep. That's one reason that what praying I do I often do with eyes wide open and feet in locomotion. And yet, the phrase portends more, much more. It must suggest to us that we must stay close by the side of Jesus, eyes fixed on Him, watching for how He is at work in the world, reading the signs of the times, knowing his presence, seeing that "[t]he cricket has such splendid fringe on it feet," praise God, and the wind and stars how they tell of the glory of God with prescient whispers. Even sleep tells of our humanness, so I need not chide myself too much for falling asleep in my prayers.
Maybe the non-human world can stay awake, can watch and wait, but I can't and you can't. But that too the poet says is all a part of this Story.
But thank God He's up all night. It's His watch, always.