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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Spirituality of the Night

Blessing of Sleep

I've always envied people who sleep easily. Their brains must be cleaner, the floorboards of the skull well swept, all the little monsters closed up in a steamer trunk at the foot of the bed.”
David Benioff (City of Thieves)

Do you sleep easily? I had a couple of husbands along the way who simply laid down and were instantly asleep. It seemed like some kind of dark magic to me. How did they do that! For my whole life, sleep has evaded me. I fall into cycles in which I wake up at the same minute for nights in a row—lately it's been 3:26 a.m. I've never used an alarm clock, obviously, because I'm always awake by the time it's set to ring. But here's the deal—on the rare occasion when I do sleep past five, my entire day is thrown off. I depend on these early morning hours to write; once my day is in swing, I can't marshal my thoughts. Yesterday, a case in point.

In his book, Death Masks, Jim Butcher wrote, “Sleep is God. Go worship.” Amen to that. If you are a person who sleeps well, you really should get up every morning, and get on your knees; thank God for the gracious gift you've been given. Peaceful and refreshing sleep is truly holy.

Sleep has been compared to a little death, of course. One remembers Hamlet's conversation with himself when he thought no one was listening, “To die to sleep—to sleep perchance to dream—ay, there's the rub, for in this sleep of death, what dreams may come...” And truly, we are unconscious and vulnerable when we sleep. We enter another land, with rarefied landscapes where who-knows-what may pop up. But in this alternate reality, there is access to material we don't have during our waking life. Our dreams, if we tune into them, are instructive. I miss them when I don't sleep.

Sleep is also when our bodies repair themselves. Human growth hormone is most active during sleep, mending all the little tears and bruises we inflict upon ourselves in the course of living. When you don't sleep, you don't mend, and then you hurt all the time. Sleep is truly a blessed passage. I hope you enjoy its gifts. And, if you don't, it's well worth talking to your doctor about. You do want your skull swept clean and all your monsters locked up in a steamer trunk, don't you?

                                                                  In the Spirit,


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