Night Offices

The radio version can be found here.

The calls come slow and steady.  The issues are sometimes serious, at times simple, at times nuanced.  A woman in North Carolina received both her ballot and a card stating that she was not properly registered.  An early voter in Texas reports that a poll worker has illegally changed his vote.  An 18 year old boy voting for the first time in Pennsylvania is so worried that he might do something wrong that he’s on the verge of tears. 

All of them value their suffrage. 

I went to bed late that night, the windows open just in case, so that I might smell the first whiff of smoke from an advancing fire.  Sometime after 4 my phone chirped. A woman monitoring a scanner had heard word of a new blaze up on the Occidental ridge.  Crews were being dispatched. She posted an alert on Facebook.  Did anyone have any information?

I lay in the dark and I thought of Thomas Merton, the Catholic monk and theologian.  I thought of how he had once written of the night offices.  He described how the Trappist monks would arise deep in the night and would keep vigil in the darkened silence until dawn.  He imagined monastics all around the world, each taking a night shift in their own place and in their own time so as to carry and hold all people through the darkness. They would tender hope or solace until the sun would rise again.   It was necessary, he wrote, to see the first point of light which begins to dawn.

I was tired, but nonetheless I got out of bed in the dark.  The sun was just rising in Pennsylvania.  I sat down at my computer. I logged into the Voter Assistance Hotline.  And I began my shift. 

With a perspective, this is Andrew Lewis. 

1 thought on “Night Offices

  1. Nice work! I’m so glad the hotline is working for you, Andy, and I’m sure you are contributing a lot. Joanna gave up after 2 hours of efforts yesterday for her first shift — they kept on doing technical fixes, finally succeeded, and told her her shift was cancelled. I have one more actual shift tomorrow night, then election day, and lots of “on call” in between. Meanwhile, I am texting young voters in PA and feel I am really helping some people there. I’ve signed up to cure ballots but have heard nothing back yet. We’ll see how it goes.

    Thanks for being a brother in crime, Mary

    Mary Fillmore Author, An Address in Amsterdam An historical novel about a young Jewish woman who joins the anti-Nazi resistance A Kirkus Indie Book of the Month Winner, Sarton Women’s Book Award for Historical Fiction

    “An address! There was magic in the very word for those whose very lives depended upon finding one.” J. Presser, Ashes in the Wind: The Destruction of Dutch Jewry


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