The grass never sleeps.
Or the rose.
Nor does the lily have a secret eye that shuts until morning.
Jesus said, wait with me. But the disciples slept.
The cricket has such splendid fringe on its feet,
and it sings, have you noticed, with its whole body,
and heaven knows if it even sleeps.
Jesus said, wait with me. And maybe the stars did, maybe
the wind wound itself into a silver tree, and didn’t move,
the lake far away, where once he walked as on a
lay still and waited, wild awake.
Oh the dear bodies, slumped and eye-shut, that could not
keep that vigil, how they must have wept,
so utterly human, knowing this too
must be a part of the story.
-Gethsemane, by Mary Oliver
Can you guess the first question people ask me when it comes to having a new baby?
“So, are you sleeping yet?”
That is because the sleeplessness that comes with a new baby is a universal experience. Yes, I know, sometimes a baby sleeps 6-7 hours at a time after 6 weeks, but MOST parents deal with sleeplessness.
It’s also the season of Lent. You might be wondering what kind of connection there might be to be made between Lent and sleeplessness. Well, I’m glad you asked…let me tell you, as a Dad who is missing sleep I’ve been thinking about it! Lent has historically been a time when Christians give up something in order to force themselves into a place where they have to struggle and therefore rely on God. When we give something up, we join with Jesus in the wilderness or in the Garden of Gethsemane…and that is what makes me think of sleep. Jesus was talking about sleep in the Garden before his betrayal by Judas. In Luke 22:46 we read,
“Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”
And what did the disciples do? They did exactly what I do after changing my son’s diaper, feeding him 5 oz of milk and walking him. They fell asleep.
Now, if I was trying to be “holier than thou”, I would claim to be giving up sleep for Lent!
But as we go through this season, I am reading a psalm before I go to bed. It’s just one attempt to focus myself before a night of interrupted sleep. While I’m not giving something up (I’m actually adding something to my life!), I’m inspired by Psalm 119:148.
My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises.
May all of us take time during Lent to meditate and ask the question, “What will draw me closer to my God in this season?”
Ask the question. Maybe it’s sleeping less or maybe it’s not.
But if it is…do you want to come over to my house at 3:00AM and change a diaper?
Painting by Yulonda Rios