Today is the feast day of St. Joseph. Jesus, as a grown-up man, was referred to as the son of the carpenter – a testimonial to his being a father. But I often associate Joseph with sleep and dreams. He got the inspiration and guidance on what to do during important events in his life in his sleep and dreams.
Indeed, sleep does not only rejuvenate and renew. It can also inspire, direct and guide. There have been many times I would sleep on a problem or a question or even a project. And on waking up the next day, I would have the solution or the answer or the elements I was looking for to get the project started.
I see myself living life on several layer. There is the layer of the senses. I see, I touch, I smell, I hear, I taste the world around me. Then there is the deeper layer of the intellect, the emotions, my imagination and my guts. I can wrap my mind around goodness. I do not see nor hear goodness itself but I know when an act is good or bad. I cannot see beauty itself but I can feel what a beautiful experience is. There are people I have never met before but in my guts I might instinctively and spontaneously like or dislike them. Then there is the deepest level where beyond the senses and beyond my intellect and emotions I am aware of Something or Someone else present in my life.
I would like to believe I experience this third and deepest layer of my existence during sleep. My senses are all ‘turned off’. My mind, my emotions, my imagination and my guts are at rest. And yet I am during those hours of sleep. I am renewed. I am rejuvenated. I am probably most myself. I am alone with that Someone who is my Source and my Life.
I believe this is also what happens in real prayer. I shut off my senses. Then I shut off my mind, my emotions, my imagination, and guts. And in the empty space that remains, it is not darkness but Divine Light that is there. I get to encounter my God. I become suffused by the Divine Presence and then I slowly surface up again. I open my senses and try to see the world around me even as I am still soaked in the Divine Presence. I look at my thoughts, my feelings, my imaginings and my guts and see how these have been touched and transformed by my encounter with God.
St. Joseph, pray for us.