Saturday, August 04, 2007

Sleeping: an act of trust

It's a coincidence - or is it? - that Susan of Bipolarwellness just finished talking about sleeping problems, searching for solutions that might help Kira out. I had been planning on doing a post about the problems of getting rest. It was the topic for our last Living Room meeting.

Some of the practical solutions to getting to sleep are well covered in Susan's post. But there is a spiritual angle to this - one I haven't seen discussed too much anywhere. I read a wonderful book by Mark Buchanan and loved it so much that I am in the process of reading it again. The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring the Sabbath deals with rediscovering what it means to truly rest. One of the things Buchanan writes about is sleep.

I want to share with you what he has to say on this topic:

Sleep is "...a relinquishment. It is a self-abandonment: of control, of power, of consciousness, of identity. We direct nothing in our sleep. We master nothing. We lose ourselves and are carried like children or prisoners into a netherworld alternately grotesque and idyllic, carnivalesque and elysian. In sleep we become infants again: utterly vulnerable, completely defenseless, totally dependent. Out of control.

"...So sleep, besides being a necessity, is also an act of faith.

"...we give ourselves, regardless of our unfinished business, into God's care. We sleep simply because we believe God will look after us."


Susan Bernard said...

A very interesting post. On Monday, I refer people in my blog to it. I'll see if I can get the book in the library.

Maintaining the Sabbath is an interesting subject to me, particularly since I'm Jewish. Because I'm reform and not conservative or orthodox, it's never been a "requirement" of my brand of Judaism.

But it's certainly something to think about. Welcome back. Hope you had a nice trip!


marja said...

Thanks, Susan. Buchanan does not talk about the Sabbath in legalistic terms. In fact, when you start making it a "law" it stops doing what it's supposed to do for us. Jesus said that the law was made for man (ie, for our own good) not man made for the law. (I think that's how it goes.)

The Sabbath is for our enjoyment. He talks about a cat napping in a cradle of sunshine. (beautiful imagery)That's how we need to rest.

You will enjoy this book. Just the act of reading it will relieve stress.

Carrie said...

I found this intriguing. One of my very first anxieties (maybe at age 5 or 6) was of dying while I slept.

Daily Dose said...

I love that picture, too cute.

I agree with carrie - I always feared that if I fell asleep...I would never wake up...and where did I get that from as a child:

As I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
If I die before I wake
I pray the Lord My sould to take...

Said this every night before bed.

marja said...

Hi Carrie and Tery,

I guess it's when a child first finds out that he/she won't live forever that the thought of dying is such a hard one to deal with. That's why you would have had that fear around that age, Carrie.

And Tery, that prayer, though it has such a long history of use by children, is an awful one for them to have to pray. To think of going to sleep, always thinking that you might never wake up!

Thanks very much for your comments.

And Carrie: I think this must be your first time visiting my blog. Welcome! I'm going to go over and see your blog as well.

Syd said...


This is a very interesting and thought-provoking post. As a Christian who has suffered with chronic and often severe insomnia for nearly 15 years, and who was diagnosed with sleep apnea a year ago, I'm going to have to think about this in a different light.

I agree with daily dose about the bedtime prayer. Ironically, I didn't think about dying in my sleep as much as a child as I do now knowing that I really could because of the sleep apnea!

I've been toying with a theory that I'm afraid to sleep because some very bad things happened to me in the middle of the night and perhaps there's a part of me that feels that I need to be constantly watchful or "on guard" as a result. But I think I do believe your theory that sleep is one of the most fundamental leaps of faith. It's the ultimate "letting go and letting God." Hmm... something for me to work on.

Thanks for the insight.