My eyes are open in the night watches,
that I may mediate upon your promise. 119:148
The moment before I reach full consciousness, I try to reverse the process in order to sink back into a deep sleep. No good. I am awake. In the middle of the night. The house is quiet around me. I am unaware of any exterior disturbance that has disrupted my sleep, which is really too bad, because the only cause left is an interior one. My mind is disquieted within me and has demanded midnight attention. Sigh.
I remember bouts of insomnia as a teenager, not being able to sleep the night before an important competition, or a difficult encounter. I would lie awake making deals with myself, “If I go to sleep in the next five minutes, I will get six hours of sleep and that will be enough.” Two hours later I would convince myself that four hours would be enough, and as sleep continued to elude me, it became impossible to negotiate a treaty with my anxiety.
I don’t remember when I learned to pray in the dark hours. I can hear my mother saying to a friend, “I figure as long as I am awake, I might as well spend the time in prayer.” Perhaps I learned by osmosis.
Now I do not fight the wakefulness, nor do I abandon rest. I give myself to prayer, thanking God for the day that is past, asking for grace in the day to come. I breathe in God’s mercy and expel the tendrils of tension, intentionally slowing my heart and easing my soul. I give myself up to holy time.
copyright © Anne E. Kitch 2013