A Shrill Voice in the Night

On a cold winter night, worries kept me awake–that, and a strange voice.

by - Posted on Dec 1, 2015

Mysterious Ways: Comfort Before Christmas

It was 2:30 a.m. on a cold November morning and I was wide awake in bed, my wife sound asleep beside me, my three children slumbering in the loft above us in our tiny rented bungalow. Winter was beginning to wrap her icy, bony hands around my throat, and anxious thoughts about the cost of Christmas gifts and our rising utility bill overwhelmed my mind.

Suddenly, a small but shrill voice pierced the quiet. Only a few muffled words, then silence again. One of the kids, mumbling in their sleep?

I turned toward the drop-down ladder leading up to the loft and listened for a while. There was nothing but soft breathing. Had I really heard anything?

Clasping my hands around my head, I looked up through the skylight and tried to pray. I pastored a small church and worked as a certified nursing assistant in a nursing home, but the income just never added up to enough. My wife couldn’t work because she stayed home to take care of our three young kids, Taylor, Adrianna, and Aaron. I could use some reassurance right now, Lord. But my prayers did no more than add to the cacophony of anxious thoughts keeping me awake. Even the beautiful view of the cosmos through the skylight didn’t sooth me.  

“It’ll be…”

That voice again! Shrill and squeaky. A bit less muffled this time. It came from the other side of our bedroom, near a box where the kids’ toys were piled.  The sound of our cat rummaging in the box drowned out the rest. Then, silence. The cat jumped onto our bed and curled up between my wife and me. I sat up. I had to know what was making that noise.

The voice spoke once more. This time, I recognized its tone and cadence.  One of the kids’ talking dolls – Ernie, of Sesame Street’s beloved, mismatched duo Ernie and Bert. Had the cat set it off? Or something else? The message, however, was loud and clear.

“It’ll be all right.”

I took that message to heart. Slowly, the low hum of our cat’s purr lulled me to sleep. Neither the doll, nor my worries have kept me up much since. 

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