I never tire of reading the “Year With Thomas Merton” devotional. No matter how many times I read it, God uses it to stir thoughts about prayer, living – and most importantly – developing a closer relationship with Him. Today is no different.
We are settling into our new house nicely and in the midst of unpacking and organizing, life continues to move forward. Some good, some not so good. Some fun and some challenging. Then in the midst of life, there comes the challenge of sleep from time to time as well. Some 30 years ago my home Pastor in Peterborough, Ontario once commented during a meeting – “I slept well last night”. At the time it seemed such an odd comment and I asked him about it later. His explanation made sense, but at the same time I wondered how much of a spiritual giant does it take to arrive at such at a place of peace. How deep must ones relationship be with God to “sleep well” in the midst of life when hard decisions need to be made and when it seems like life is pressing in on all sides.
I have not arrived at a place of “sleeping well” all the time. But that’s probably due to the fact that like my Seminary advisor would often say – “Are you telling me you’re part of the human race?” – still comes into play. Life presses in at times and sleep does seem fleeting at times. However in this journey we call life I can say “sleeping well” is more of an occurrence than when I was younger.
Today, in the midst of life, I was once again reminded of how to find the place of sweet rest and “sleeping well”. Thomas Merton writes, “It becomes very important to remember that the quality of one’s night depends on the thoughts of the day, on the sanity of the day. I bring there the sins of the day into the light and darkness of truth to be adorned without disguise – then I want to fly back to the disguises”. Those thoughts come after Merton writes about prayer in a devotional for today entitled “One Prays to Pray”. The reading starts with Merton saying, “One must pray or go to seed. The pretense of prayer will not suffice. Just sitting will not suffice. It has to be real – yet what can one do? Solitude puts your back to the wall (or your face to it!) and this is good. One prays to pray”.
How do we “sleep well”?
John Wesley said we should start every day with a simple question – “Did I start and end the day thinking on the things of God”? Merton is right. Solitude puts your back to the wall – or your face to it – and it is there in that very moment that one prays to pray. In the quiet of the night as we combine the thoughts of Thomas Merton and the methodology of Wesley’s question we discover the secret to “sleeping well”. The quality of our night comes down to where our thoughts of the day are. The sanity of the day depends on our walking closely with God throughout the day and keeping “every thought captive to Christ Jesus” through the day. That in turn helps us keep the sanity of the day in balance with the ups and downs of life.
We “sleep well” when we find ourselves in a close relationship with God brining every aspect of life to Him. No matter what, we can always find peace with God when we bring the day to Him.