Sleep as a Numinous Experience

Awed by the grandeur of the universe, the ancients experienced the world as numinous and as a mystery. Filled with wonder, they could only surmise at the ultimate cause of all the beauty and goodness they saw around them. As science advanced and men learned more about the world around them, they marveled even more at the ingenuity of the design and structure of the universe. But now equipped with the belief that everything is knowable, men have lost the sense of the numinous and of the mysterious.

Today, when people want a quick answer to any and all questions, they go to Google. But there are deeper questions for which Google has no answers. And the fact remains that there are still a lot of things we do not know. In fact, the more we know, the more we realize how much more we do not know. We have searched the skies searching for stars and galaxies, only to be stumped by dark matter and dark energy. We have plumbed the depths of the sea, yet we know more about the moon’s surface than we do about the what lies below our oceans and beneath the earth.

Then there are the questions and longings in the hearts of men for which science and modern-day knowledge have not been able to give answers to. There are ordinary and everyday experiences we still struggle to understand.

Sleep is such ordinary and everyday experience that has me fascinated. Do I really just sleep? I close my eyes, my body rests and I feel recharged in the morning. Is that all there is to sleep? More and more, I believe there is more than just that happening in my sleep. My conscious self in sleeping, yes. But my unconscious self and my subconscious self, the bigger portion of my person, remain awake. This is the world of dreams. This is the real world of the numinous in me. This is the time I am most myself and I encounter God in that sacred space. But I just do not remember everything that happens to me during that time for these remain buried in my unconscious and subconscious. I remember snippets of this time as my dreams. But is there any way I can remember these when I awake and my conscious self takes over again?

Life is mysterious. It is a numinous experience that points to an Infinite cause. There is so much more to life than my finite mind can fully embrace and comprehend. In my sleep, I pray that I surrender myself totally to the Infinite and let Him work His wonders in me.

Create a clean heart in me, O God.
Psalm 51

From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples
that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly
from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed and on the third day be raised.
Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him,
“God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.”
He turned and said to Peter,
“Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me.
You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”
Matthew 16:21–23

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