We may not exactly say “Woe is me, I am doomed!” when challenges arise, mistakes are made, or we feel inadequate, as in Isiah’s passage, but we certainly feel doomed on occasion. I recall, after the death of my mother when I was 30, sitting in the night and looking for a sign; a sign that she was okay, that there was something for her beyond her presence on Earth. I looked at the cloud shapes, into the tree branches, listened to the wind. I would have loved a seraphim to fly to me, holding an ember, but none arrived. That’s certainly not the last time I’ve wished for a sign. Finally, I stopped trying to force finding proof. I opened myself up to prayer. Over time I have learned that the more with my heart, and in faith, I can say “Here I am” to God, the more I know He is with me. Through faith, such knowledge is a gift; that sign I sought many years ago.
“Here I am.” In turn, through faith, strength is built up—to bolster us during trying days, to comfort us in times of need, to spur us on to be who we are meant to be. Psalm 138 declares, “When I called, you answered me; you built up strength within me.” Prayer is saying “Here I am.” Prayer is a call, an invitation, and prayer allows us to hear God’s answer.
Luke’s Gospel shows us we don’t need to be perfect to say “Here I am” and pray. When Jesus asks Simon to recast his nets, Simon makes an excuse. When he eventually catches more fish than the boat can hold, Simon Peter sinks to his knees and says, “Depart from me Lord...” Yet, Jesus doesn’t give up on him, reassures him and the others. Ultimately, they leave everything behind and follow Jesus. They learned to say, “Here I am,” and listened, heard, and believed.
So now, when that “woe is me, I am doomed” cloud hovers on the horizon, I try to stop, take a breath, and whisper “Here I am,” and know that I am heard, answered, strengthened, and loved. I’d still love to see that seraphim, but for now, I’ll pray.
—Gail H. Dennig, Co-Chair English Department, English Teacher