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Sharing the insights I discover as I explore and experience the mystery that is our reality. Join me in my journey and share yours.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Midnight Revelations:Insomnia's Subtle Gifts

                                                           Courtesy of Google Images

This post is certainly not aiming at minimizing the sometimes debhilitating condition of insomnia, where one is caught in a near constant state of being awake when they so desperately want and need to find rest in the sleep realm. No, this is instead, my commentary and my personal idenficiation, with a phenomenon that I came across while reading a book I've been enjoying immensely, The Other Side of Silence: A Guide to Christian Meditation by Morton T. Kelsey.

In the following passage, Kelsey describes how during spontaneous moments in the middle of the night a voice within him will beckon him to arise and write about a given thought or insight. It is no less than God's gentle voice whispering through the corridors of his subconscious, beckoning Him for time alone with his Father, time to reflect and be washed clean from attachments and be filled with the love of His presence while gaining new understandings into his own Self and ego as well as those concerning the nature of man and God.

Kesley's middle of the night revelations and encounters with God were conceived by the advice of his friend who was also a respected psychologist. He had related his struggle of perceiving many of the scripture's meanings "vanishing into thin air" as he struggled spiritually and sought to encounter God more experientially. Having had shared this in the past, on another get together with his friend he began to complain at length about his concerns in his sleeping patterns, fearing he had fallen prey to a pattern of insomnia he wouldn't be able to shake.

"Usually I sleep four or five hours and then awaken, and at that time I would lie in bed and stew, angry because I could not go back to sleep. When I told my psychologist friend this, he smiled, alomost as if amused, and then asked, "Has it ever occurred to you, Morton, that someone might be trying to get through to you? Don't you remember how God called Samuel in the night"

From then on  I began to get up in the night and write down my dreams and then try to listen. I soon discovered that this was prime time for me. It was a time when the telephone did not ring, and the children had no more questions for that day, and parishioner's problems were safely bedded down. I found that I could listen to God during this time and tell him about my fears and anxieties, and what I had dreamed. After about thirty minutes to an hour, with everything written down as best as I could in a journal, I would go back to bed and soon be asleep, my inner buisness in better order.

...It is usually at these times that the best insights about my life and the world around me (both physical and spiritual) come to me. Insomnia can be a calling from the depth of oneself that we have unfishinesd spiritual business, that there are things we need to look at, deminsions, shadows and lights, even entities that we have overlooked."

I can identify to a degree with Kelsey's experience of being awakened in the night by God.  It is not an every night occurrence for me but there have been nights, usually a series of a few in a row, where I will wake up around 2 am with a thought, a prayer or the impression just to get downstairs and to write or to pray. These times usually come when I find myself steeped and focused in the regular practice of prayer and meditation during my days.

I remember one such night. I awoke with these words that were echoing through my head. My whole consciousness seemed to be filled with an awareness of God's intimate love for me and I just felt bubbling over with devotion towards Him. I've oftentimes used the word "smitten" when describing my sentiments towards God, and in the wee hours of this morning, when dawn was not yet ready to pull back her curtains to reveal day, I felt beyond smitten. I felt both lost and found in His love. And it was glorious. These feelings were overflowing from within my center taking the form of words that seemed to come with a rythym and life of their own.

I knew I had to write them down. I knew if I waited until morning they would be gone, a mere shadow of the form they now presented themselves to be. It was if I had no choice. If I stayed in the comfort of my warm and welcoming bed I would have just laid awake anyways, wishing I was downstairs working through my thoughts on paper. I crept out of bed, leaving my husband slumbering blissfully in his dream state and upon arriving downstairs, grabbed my laptop, closed my eyes and let my heart flow out with the words that were initiated through the spark of God's love and presence.

This was the morning when the following poem was conceived. I'm not suggesting it's any kind of literary masterpeice. I don't claim to be a poet. But I do feel that God's love that morning ushered these words to the surface of my subconscious, giving form to it revelation of His great love and prose to some of what I've experienced during my spiritual journey in entering into ever greater depths of His presence.

In The Fullness of His Presence

Living, breathing, my heart is beating,
The wind blows, my faith grows,
all around life is teeming,
Lessons...beckon, the Present is my teacher
centered, in the stillness, my soul opens up to greet her,

Poised at the pinnacle of revelation
rejoicing with all of creation
nestled in the bosom of reality
I find God inside of Me.

Laughing, dancing, weeping, kneeling
I thank God for the senses of feeling.
Perched on the point between joy and despair
I breathe God in, He's everywhere.

Drunk on the ecstasy of my senses swallowing me
Every sound, every movement leaps alive from life's mural
Every moment a living mandala, impermanent and fertile.
God, living and breathing and sustaining it all,
I just rest, centered, hearing His steady call.

Draw near, draw near, enter in and find your rest,
Draw near, kneel at my throne and you will be blessed.
His throne, eternal, having no beginning or end,
Centered in our hearts, beckoning our knees to bend.

I also can relate to the experience that Kelsey wrote about of how when one is being called by God during these dark hours and when obedience takes form into action and we follow His call, then, after the message or insight is received, He oftentimes with mercy cuts the strings that have held us awake and lets us once again fall back into a peaceful slumber. After waking and either writing or just meditating or reading Scripture and receiving the love or insights that He has for me during those moments, there usually comes a moment of "knowing", when I know that all is well, what was meant to be has been acheived or experienced, and I can now go back to bed. And I do, resting in the cradle of His love and peace.

While insomnia can be a condition that  can be a hindrance to a good night's sleep and effect other facets of our lives, it might also be a moment of opportunity for many of us. It might be an opportunity to unwrap a beautiful gift God is calling you to receive. Is God drawing you from the sleep realm to arise, O sleeper, and turn your heart towards Him in moments when the busyness and distractions of life fade into the background and your inner self can become more focused on His reality? Is God trying to tell you something, or perhaps give you a gift of hope or a ray of understanding and insight that will carry you more gracefully through the day that has not yet begun?

Can you recall a moment when you awoke from sleep, seemingly called out of slumber, by God's gentle voice beckoning to spend some time with Him? I'd love to hear about if you do!

Any thoughts? I'm sure you have some! I'd love to hear them. Please leave them in the comments section. Thank you!


  1. I love this Jessica! I have experienced this in my life time and it is a wonderful feeling. Other times tho (and I'm not making light of your post) the oreos and milk holler for me around 3 am :( Hate that! Would much rather it be the other :)

  2. It is a beautiful poem Jessica! For many years I suffered from severe insomnia. I couldn´t sleep without taking a sleeping tablet. Thank God I managed to move beyond my troubles and now I sleep like a baby. Sometimes I regret to say if I am very troubled then the insomnia hits me again. Great post!

  3. Just beautiful, Jess, and so moving! No, I don't get wake-up calls in the middle of the night with the exception of one. It was the night after the day God told me to begin writing devotionals. I woke up suddenly around one in the morning, thinking it was about six, raring to start writing. When I looked at the clock and realized what time it was, I heard God whisper (I'm not kidding!), "Go back to bed, honey, you'll do a much better job if you are rested."

    I followed orders and haven't missed writing a daily devotion since. Oh, how God is so, so good!!!


  4. I think I can call my self an insomniac,thank u for this one Jessica,proving to be once again a great support in my life.

  5. Great post Jess! I love my "alone" time with God when it is just the two of us in the middle of the night. I normally make myself a cup of hot chocolate and sit at the dining room table with my Bible and journal and listen to Him talk to me. Their is something special when it is in the middle of the night or in the early morning when it is just the two of us. Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn, Psalm 108:2

  6. Jessica, Morton Kelsey has been one of my spiritual mentors. I have a number of his books, and wouldn’t trade his wisdom for the world.

    Your poem is just delightful. “I just rest, centered, hearing His steady call.” How consoling in a world of cares to know that his voice is always accessible.

    Recently when I suffered insomnia I got up and sat on the front porch all night and prayed. I was uneasy and worried about a health issue. I sat and prayed, walked and prayed… and by dawn my soul was in a state of absolute peace and rest.

  7. I am a very light sleeper. Loved your poem. When I cant sleep I take deep breaths and slowly but steadily I do fall off to sleep. I am yet to experience anything divine during my sleep. But I know when asleep the soul does travel to other realms.

  8. i always seem to wake at about 3 in the morning. Having experienced this for some time now, i've learnt to leave a note pad and pen by my bed side. i frequently find answers to problems materialising, or ideas for my blog. Within 15 minutes i'm back asleep, ready to carry out whatever has entered my head when i awake properly for the morning.

  9. I could not relate to it.. I apologize for it but I had be honest... I sleep through the night. When i do wake up the next morning there is always a spring in my step... Those moments where I do find myself tossing or awake my focus goes to my breath......
    I really do take one day at a time... all depends on my first step out of bed!

  10. This actually happens frequently, Jess. I then wake up with a passage of the Word, a worship song about Jesus or just joyful and walk in that anointing all day long, sister!! Am in the Word all day as I listen to my bible mp3 (Dramatized) or preaching for hours...pray ...and those moments you described when His presence is so THERE...amazing to me...that He would love one such as I.

    God bless

  11. Wow...Jessica, that was beautiful! And, very impressive...loved it. Thank you for sharing.

  12. There are different hours to pray (liturgical hour) and we'd most likely see this in the monastery...

    I don't usually get up in the middle of the night to pray because I stay awake really late... my morning hours would take me as early as 5am though...

    I experienced this in our Ignatian retreat when our spiritual guide gave us an hour to pray at midnight and really stay with God...the challenge was to wake up without an alarm clock...

    It was awesome Jessica.. it was like hearing Jesus' voice calling, "Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one, and come!" (Song of Songs 1,10)... because one can truly hear God beckoning... seeking... knocking...desiring to spend time with us...

    and I woke up exactly at that time... those were sacred moments.

    I came to understand more through your sharing and reflection how strong love is... it goes beyond insomnia (when one can feel distressed for not being able to sleep) to a powerful conversation with God.

    I love This Jessica...thanks for bringing me closer to Gd this day :)

  13. What a magnificent article! I agree 100%. I often wondered why is it that at night, I often wake up and it's easier for me to spend time with God.

    I believe that God does this because it's quiet, we are at ease, and all distractions are gone.

    I'll never forget one night when I woke up and it sounded like a I heard words audibly as if someone was next to me. All I could think is "write it down, write it down". As tired as I was, I did.

    That was about three years ago and those words I heard was a poem that I believe, God had me to write. Over the summer, I did a poetry reading and it was that exact poem that I read and so many were touched by it.

    You made a valid point too in stating that we ought to get up and write it down while the moment is there. One time I refused to get up, telling myself I'd do it in the morning. I got up the next day and couldn't remember and all I thought was ''I was too late. God came and I didn't welcome Him." After that, I get up every single time and although God wakes me up in the early hours, I wake up the next morning feeling completely rested.