It was always a great feeling in a game of hide-and-seek to get to the point where the seeker gave up and called us in because we had been so successful in hiding. “Here I am!” in that case was a triumphant exclamation – rare in our neighborhood of expert searchers who knew all the best places to hide.
“Here I am!” in the Scriptures first appears as response of a child (Samuel) to what he thought was a call from his teacher (Eli) but really was God calling. The response appears again today but with an “add-on” as the refrain from Psalm 40 where we hear the psalmist proclaim: Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will. Neither Samuel nor the psalmist is hiding. They are both presenting themselves – quite eagerly it seems – for whatever task they are called to perform.
Today our Church celebrates the feast of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, a monastic who accomplished great things both for monasticism and in the world of his time (the 12th century). After a recounting of his many achievements in a short biography there is a telling sentence that reads, “Yet …he still retained a burning desire to return to the hidden monastic life of his younger days.” I found that not only admirable but instructive. His dedication to prayer in the midst of all that he was doing in God’s service was most likely the only reason that he knew what to do in any case.
So it is with us. If we have been hiding, it might be time to show ourselves and be “caught” for God’s purpose. If we have been willing, perhaps we need deeper listening in the silence to discern what to do or who to be. If we are already solidly placed in God’s service, today is a day to sing with the psalmist, To do your will, O my God, is my delight, and your law is within my heart! (PS 40:9)