Saturday, February 18, 2012

The gift of sleep...

When I was little I used to wonder why God created day and night. Usually, that question would rise to the surface at this time of year when the days are long, but never quite long enough. Long after supper, my brother and I would still be outside running barefoot in the grass. As the light slowly faded, we’d chase fireflies just becoming visible and hope that my mother wouldn’t look at the clock. It seemed all wrong to go to bed as the light was still fading. Days like that should never end.

As children we resist sleep. When we’re grown up, we wonder why we ever railed against the rest we needed so badly. Sleep becomes a salvation – a resting place where we lay our burdens down for the night. The days are still long now - long with work, worry and anxiety. When evening comes, sometimes it’s all we can do to keep our eyes open until our head hits the pillow. We exhaust ourselves physically, mentally and spiritually.

Some of us want to sleep but can't or our sleep is disturbed. Sleeping "aids" are prescribed more than ever for those whose thoughts feel unrelenting. We are sold the product of the "perfect night's sleep" if we buy the right mattress system. Sleep disorders - diagnosed through a "study" - reveal that an alarming number of adults have been deprived of healthy sleep for years! Many have been functioning at full tilt while inwardly battling a profound and consistent exhaustion. Little or no REM sleep has physiological consequences. Now, thanks to good diagnostic tools and portable technologies, these empty sleepers can know true rest - deep sleep that reconstitutes body and soul.

Still...we long for the sleep of childhood. We long to be so physically tired that thoughts, worries and regrets have no room to settle. We long - somewhere deep inside - for our mother's soft bedtime voice, for her arms to rock us, her lips to gently kiss forehead or face. This love - though physically distant - remains real through grace. Our last prayer at night can summon its power. "You give my heart more joy than all their grain and wine. I sleep secure at night, you keep me in your care (Psalm 4:8-9)." We need to pray for peace, for good rest, for abiding love though the darkness of night.

God knew well the burdens of our humanity long before that first sunset and longed even then to restore our weary hearts. God placed hope into the blueprint of the cosmos with that first morning. And with each morning God’s mercies are new. This God who never “sleeps nor slumbers”, cradles us in loving arms through the night, and wakes us to a new day fresh with the dew of possibility – a day in which to live and love again – another day to praise God’s holy name for the steadfast love that never ceases to renew the face of the earth.

Blessings and love to you,

- Sister Vicki