Rest?

You grant us sleep for rest from our infirmities, and repose from the burdens of our much toiling flesh.

Many babies have a fussy hour every evening. Being rocked or walked helps sometimes, but sometimes it doesn’t. There’s nothing to do but wait for it to pass into peaceful sleep.

As we age, our feet hurt and our joints stiffen toward dusk. Getting dinner ready and putting in that last load of laundry take more effort than breakfast prep and the first load did. If we listen to our bodies, we put off whatever work we can until morning. When we don’t, we get short with children and spouses – our self-inflicted fussy hour. With life wisdom, we do our best to stop fretting as we get closer to bedtime. Without it, we bring our fretful frustration to bed with us.

Restful sleep is the letting go of the day, handing over the good and bad to God (or an oblivion, unconscious, or collective dreamscape if God isn’t acceptable). Problems get reworked and resolved if necessary, and dreams enrich the passing of the night hours. This recharging of body, mind, and soul seems to be done without effort. How wonderful that a biological necessity grants passage to an enchanted world.

Anxious sleep lets go of all the good in the day, but keeps a choke hold on mistakes and disappointments – masochistic treasures of our much toiling minds. Sleep may come with pharmaceutical or alcoholic help, but passing out isn’t the same as rest, and a drug induced stupor drains mind and soul instead of refreshing them.

There’s wisdom in physical labor that brings relief to its own exhaustion in sound sleep.
There’s wisdom in the hard work of spiritual and emotional growth that allows us to skip or leave behind our adult fussy hour. Such physical and spiritual labor doesn’t get much respect or positive press these days. How is it that something so fundamental is disregarded, even discouraged?

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Johnna

I am a Christian educator and writer.I have worked in churches, denominational offices, and seminaries. I have a PhD in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, with a focus on Practical Theology and educating in faith. In 2010, my book, "How the Other Half Lives: the challenges facing clergy spouses and partners," was published by Pilgrim Press. I believe that words can build doorways that lead to encounters with God through the Spirit.

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