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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!