(This is Boo the Dog, the cutest dog in the world! To learn more about him click here .)
There are times when the absence of something is what makes me grateful for it. Today is one of those days. Today I am grateful for sleep.
For most of my life, I was a champion sleeper. It was one of the things I did best! I could fall asleep on a dime, anytime, anywhere. I could sleep for hours. But then I hit a certain age and all that changed. A good night’s sleep is a precious commodity these days.
For me, sleep isn’t just about renewing myself physically, though that is very important as well. Sleep is about soul work. When I am troubled about something, or need to make a big decision, I usually “sleep on it”. Some people think of that as just putting off the decision and not thinking about it. But for me, it means engaging my unconscious to help lead me in the best direction. God does some powerful work in us through our dreams and unconscious.
My sermon preparation begins Sunday night of the week prior to my sermon. Before going to sleep, I read the Gospel for the next Sunday and ask God to speak to me through my dreams about the passage. Of course, this isn’t the only preparation that is needed — sermon prep is not magic! There’s reading and praying and research that needs to be done. But the time of sleep helps unlock my unconscious soul and leads me to ideas and insights that I may not have been able to recognize in the busyness of my waking hours.
The best preparation for a good night’s sleep for me is to engage in something called The Ignatian Examen. It’s a brief , five step process that helps settle my mind and put the day’s activities to rest. The five steps are:
1. Become aware of God’s presence.
2. Review the day with gratitude.
3. Pay attention to your emotions.
4. Choose one feature of the day and pray for it.
5. Look toward tomorrow and invite God to be there with you.
For more information on the Ignatian Examen, click here.
When I have had a good night’s sleep, everything seems possible. I feel connected in body, mind and spirit. It is truly a gift. For most of my life, I took that gift for granted because it was readily available. Not any more. Today, I am profoundly grateful for a good night’s sleep.