Sleep as a Mystery and a Sacred Moment

Sleep is something many people take for granted. Sleep is a mystery to me and it can be a prayer and be made a sacred moment. Science tells me that we move through two kinds of sleep: the REM sleep and the non-REM. The body repairs and restores itself during the non-REM sleep. This is important for health. Lack of sleep can be more deleterious to health that lack of exercise or an unhealthy diet. Non-REM sleep keeps our body whole and healthy. We have our dreams during the REM sleep. The mind sorts out the information we have gathered and received during the day to organize it and make sense of it all. REM sleep helps us keep our sanity and gives us the ability to cope.

On a deeper level, in sleep I am most myself – unencumbered by the hassles of daily living, unburdened by the worries of the day, and not distracted by the many things that come my way. I am just by myself. And might it not be possible that it is during such moments that I am most myself that I can truly encounter God? I may not have any recollection of such an encounter; but my body knows I have been made whole again by God and my mind, in the far reaches of my unconscious and subconscious, knows that I have met the Lord. In the Bible, there are many instances of God talking to his people in their sleep. It might not be after all just a fanciful way of portraying God speaking to his people. We actually encounter God in our sleep.

I make my sleep a time of prayer but totally surrendering myself to God before I finally doze off. I will not remember much of the encounter but I know that in my total surrender, like the tax collector praying who would not even look up to heaven, God cradles me in his embrace to make me whole again for the next day.

Jesus also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Luke 18:9-14

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