Sleeping...

Once upon a time I read that more and more Americans are having a harder time going to sleep. One study suggests that 20% of adults in the USA get less than six hours of sleep each night (http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/toll-of-sleep-loss-in-america) and that this contributes to increased anxiety, stress and work-related injuries. I've been thinking about this a lot as we settle into the groove of our sabbatical and wonder, "How long will I wake up from 9 hours of sleep and still be tired?" We've started being more active again (absolutely essential) and modifying some sloppy eating habits (another necessity.) But the biggest change for me is the amount of sleep I get each night - and the residual weariness I continue to experience 20 days into this quiet time.

Most of the time when I am working I sleep about six hours each night and never remember my
dreams. Now, however, I am dreaming a lot - and most of it is weird and at times disturbing. So when we get to Montreal I am going to start a dream journal. I've done this in the past partly to note the images as soon as I wake up so that I can start to process them; and partly to help me learn to keep track of them without a written resource. Once, during a time of spiritual direction and therapy, we did dream work to explore both my projections and my deepest yearnings. It was illuminating and healing. 

The Scriptures speak of dreaming - something that too little sleep curtails - as a way of listening to God and/or our soul. The Hebrew prophet Joel speaks of a time when the young and old shall dream together.  The Christian book of Acts uses Joel's words, too:

And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.

I think, too, of the visions that guide other wisdom figures in the Scriptures:  Abraham is given a vision of his progeny and the birth of Israel in Genesis 15, Jacob encounters a vision of God's ladder between heaven and earth in Genesis 28, Joseph becomes a dream interpreter for Pharaoh in Genesis 40, Joseph discerns a way to save his young family the book of Matthew, Ananias and Cornelius experience visions of being embraced by the house God's covenant with Israel in Acts (as do Peter and Paul) and John of Patmos sees a vision of a new heaven and new earth in Revelations. Sadly, without adequate sleep, too many of our young and old folks never get the chance to listen more carefully for God's still, small voice in our dreams.
To be honest, I wasn't prepared to still be this tired after three weeks. I feel significantly better and more rested than when we started. A shift towards a slower pace began as we were leaving Nashville and continues to take root.  Cutting out most TV has been a good thing - and will be another commitment in Montreal - and quitting computer work after early evening will help, too. Pablo Neruda put it like this in his poem "The Weary One."

The weary one, orphan
of the masses, the self,
the crushed one, the one made of concrete,
the one without a country in crowded restaurants,
he who wanted to go far away, always farther away,
didn't know what to do there, whether he wanted
or didn't want to leave or remain on the island,
the hesitant one, the hybrid, entangled in himself,
had no place here: the straight-angled stone,
the infinite look of the granite prism,
the circular solitude all banished him:
he went somewhere else with his sorrows,
he returned to the agony of his native land,
to his indecisions, of winter and summer.

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