Standing Among the Flowers at Midnight

IMG_6802It’s midnight as I write this, fallen awake again at the wrong hours, night after night, exhausted but vividly in tune. The room goes dark, and it’s all technicolor for me, an odd synesthesia behind these lids.

It’s quiet, and my vision goes to standing rain in the garden. It stood on and off for weeks, and the plants froze, green and immature, stuck in an early June portrait in mid-July. It has been all small green on a mud backdrop. At first only the volunteer vegetables made progress. Only this week have my tomatoes yawned out a few pale fruits. There was one ripe one, a red tommy toe, how we called them when I was little. I ate it tonight when I went to shew the chickens in.


Here at night, what I see is the day’s memory of what’s to the side of the corn and beans and future melons: the healthiest patch of zinnias. My eyes close, and there I see them, bright pink like on little girl sashes. I didn’t plant a single one of those big-headed flowers. They stem up from each other, building so that to cut one would be to cut three in near-bloom. I leave them be. I simply walk to the garden to stand among them. Maybe you belong among them, too.

Maybe you were awake at midnight.

Thank goodness for a visual memory sometimes. Often I see fabric. I close my eyes and there’s paisley. That’s ridiculous. It’s okay. I love it. I try to focus on the zinnias, the basketweave, the gold stitch, or the orange cone rising from the pink echinacea.IMG_6805

My chest hurts, another course study in Anxiety 101, and it’s stupid – as is my sudden fear of certain foods and my fear of ibuprofen and my fear of cancer and strokes and leaving my children motherless. Focus on the flowers. Imagine you’ve walked up on a tiger lily. Talk to her.

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“At first, you’re a pucker. Then you curl back on yourself and show the inside. It’s where you keep a design some copy for their Sunday dresses. We don’t need to ask what you’re made of, tiger lily. We see it. You’re made of worry-free fabric.”

If I really belong among the flowers, the ones that beckon me at midnight accompanied by Tom Petty, no less, then I will do the simple thing. I will write it out.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:4-8).

I recall God to say, “Come let us reason together.” What is this place for if I can’t sit up in the dark next to my husband and my baby so I can hash out a little reason. God is at hand. I don’t know what the Greek on that means, but I’ll imagine it just means He’s here. He’s as close as my hands. He’s at the keys.

It’s assumed here that anxiety is a choice, like either you can eat a pickle or you can eat a cookie, but it seems to me that my body doesn’t tend to obey the choice my brain wants to make for me. Anxiety acts like a strong desire. It feels like lust, consuming, not as much like a pickle.IMG_6806

But I’ll be among the flowers and pray because we know that cannot hurt. I will let my thanksgiving turn into praise. Picture the day. Thank goodness. Thank goodness for the flowers.

Already peace has wound me down, slow hands now on the keys. God is here. There’s my reason to sleep.

About me


What do you taste?
November 08, 2016
You Have Not Come to Darkness
April 30, 2014
The Chains of Nervousness, Day 12
October 12, 2012
Where to Find Your Voice
August 27, 2012
When You’re Low
June 28, 2012
a thousand red birds dancing
November 02, 2011
where the muse may be
November 09, 2010
on the quiet
May 26, 2010
A Rock Home Companion: on holding on for dear life
April 19, 2010


Robin Troxell
Reply July 13, 2015

I was awake too! Thinking about re-reading 1000 Gifts but too lazy to get up and do it.

Reply July 13, 2015

"God is here. There’s my reason to sleep."-I need this tattooed on my soul.

Reply July 13, 2015

When I awake in the night with strong feelings, I remind myself that it's generally my heart reminding me that I need to take the time to tend to my self, to acknowledge and care for each of my feelings as they come. It sounds like you do the same thing, just in a little bit of a different way.

Jody Lee Collins
Reply July 13, 2015

We were parsing out 'rejoice in the Lord' the other night at home group, realizing together that it was a very strong suggestion, not some nice sentiment. Paul gives the impression it is a choice and a good one. Perhaps it may be the undoing of anxiety, tho' I can't promise.... I've had my share of sleepless, worrisome nights and can very much relate. Praying can't hurt. Indeed, it is all a Godward sort of dialogue, praise, rejoicing, lamenting.
And the zinnias do help. Thank God for those and the lilies.

Reply July 13, 2015

I just referenced that same verse on something I wrote yesterday too! Some days I feel like a woman of cool waters who walks among the flowers, and other days I have to meditate on those words in Philippians to reclaim all that my worry makes me miss.

Laura R
Reply July 14, 2015


I also struggle with anxiety. So I have decided, in a self-centered sort of way, your writing was a gift from God to me because July 13th is my birthday!

Elizabeth Marshall
Reply July 15, 2015

Sighing. Breathing out and inhaling all the goodness in the garden. It is the birthplace of peace. No worry is welcome here. There. With you in spirit in the peace of this post. Floral feast. Love. It. You.

Lisa Easterling
Reply July 16, 2015

I am quite often awake at midnight and beyond, my thoughts doing much the same as yours. Sometimes the flashes of light and color behind the lids scare me, like I need to open them quickly to see if something happened in the room. It's always just us, though, me and that sweet man of mine who doesn't stir but sleeps deeply even when I am awake and alert to everything in life at once. I have come to embrace those moments and hand them back to God who is always there to keep me company. Thanks for the invite to your garden. It is lovely, like you.

Reply July 30, 2015

It is 3 am and I grab my phone because I woke up worried again about my 7 year old son. He needs prayers now. I do too, to calm my thoughts. God sent me to your blog for the first time after I read your post on Proverbs 31. It is amazing how he brings us scripture at just the right time. Even more amazing that my son woke up with bad nightmares and I knew just the right words to say to comfort him. Thank you God! Let us both sleep, for God is with us. ;)

Reply July 30, 2015

I suffer from sleepless nights more than I care to admit. I am awear during these late night hours of how much my faith needs to grow. I feed my worry during these late night sessions. Lord give me the faith of a mustard seed. Amber, I stumbled on your blog from the P31 group and I am so blessed by your words. May God continue to bless you and your journey.

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