The Theology of Sleep: Gratuitous Insomnia

Posted: 12/18/2009 in Running the Race, Sleep

Burning the Candle at Both EndsI feel like a man sneaking a flask into an AA meeting.

Over the past week I have been slowly making my way through a list of nearly sixty different biblical passages having to do with the subject of sleep. I’ve been looking at how God moves during sleep, the major biblical events that took place while people were sleeping, the need and blessing of sleep.  I have been studying, journaling, meditating and doing absolutely nothing to experience what God might be teaching me practically through going to bed early.

Elizabeth Kübler-Ross in her book, “On Death and Dying,” described a grief/change cycle you could probably quote: denial, anger, bargaining…  and so on.  I’m not sure where I would currently fall… I think it is somewhere halfway between indifference and good intentions.  I won’t deny it, I know that I need to get more sleep, but it is a knowledge that is akin to knowing that Ouagadougou is the capital of Burkina Faso, or that the fear of long words is “Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia”… a knowledge that appears to be relatively irrelevant to my daily life.

How could that be?

Well, I don’t sleep.

Okay that isn’t true, but I have slowly fashioned habits and an impressive tolerance to allow me to minimize the amount of time I snooze. And as you can probably tell from that last sentence, I’m rather proud of that fact.

So where does this chain-stoker of the fire at both ends of the candle go from here. Do you know of a support group? A Non-sleeper’s Anonymous… I imagine meeting looking rather similar to nap-time during kindergarten.

“More Napping” might seem like the obvious choice, but I have been like this in high school, college… lets be honest the bulk of my adult life, this is going to require an act of God. So that is where we will start. I am going to continue reading verses that talk about sleep and try to answer the following questions:

  1. Why would God create us to spend 1/3 of our life in a comatose state?
  2. What do my sleep habits say about my beliefs about the world, myself & God?
  3. What theme and lessons are connected to the topic of sleep in the Bible?
  4. How does sleep effect my ability to run the race well?

The comical thing is that I write this with the full knowledge that over the next three days I’m going to get very little sleep. I guess I’ll finish my cup of Earl Grey, hope that I will eventually take this sleep thing seriously.

Gotta run.

“My candle burns at both ends It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends –
It gives a lovely light.”
Edna St. Vincent Millay


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