Thursday, January 15, 2009

Champagne for the Soul: While You Were Sleeping

For the LORD takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with salvation.
Let the saints rejoice in this honor and sing for joy on their beds. (Psalm 149:4-5)

I often wish I had "just one more day." The thought typically floats through my mind in connection with some noble task (or unrealistically long list of tasks) I wish to accomplish. If the sun actually stood still or turned back, though, I hope I'd labor at something more worthy of such a miracle than the things on my to-do list really are (serious as they may seem at the time).

The need to discover life isn't just about work is one reason that the practice of sabbath is so strongly encouraged - and in fact, the way our bodies and minds are made, sleep and rest are essential for our renewal. I know a man who, when he was in college, decided to give up sleep. It was a tool of the devil to keep us from doing good work! he said. Of course he got his reward: after days of sleeping little or not at all he came down with mono and was out of commission for weeks.

In Champagne for the Soul (the subject of my 1-8-09 post) Mike Mason reports his discovery that God does some of his best work when we’re asleep – or at rest, at any rate.

"Before my experiment in joy, I thought I knew something of the value of rest. In order to sustain joy through ninety days, however, I had to allow more time for rest than ever before.

"… Since before this I’d pictured myself as leading a contemplative lifestyle, it was a surprise to realize I was actually too busy, too driven, too reluctant to slow down and enjoy the refreshment of rest." (p. 11)

Just an hour of rest here, a five-minute break there, can make all the difference in living fruitful, joyful lives. One reason, says Mason, is this:

"One interesting property of happiness is that we cannot be happy without knowing it. We can be many other things – rich, blessed, lucky, loved – and not know it, but to be happy we must know it.

"...Rest is an opportunity to become aware of joy. We need sleep because we need dreams, and we need rest because we need daydreams." (p. 12)

3 comments:

Paul Merrill said...

Great reminder, Marti!

Marti said...

Thanks Paul. Now if I could just practice what I preach. I SO need to put on the headphones and go to the rec center for a run today... but am still here at the office, and have a meeting in half an hour, and it will probably go late...

Anonymous said...

Marti, I'm guessing you are recommending this book now that you have read more of it, is that right? I'm thinking about getting it from what you have written so far. Connie