I lay on my back, listening. The night sounds drift in through the open window. A cool July night (an oxymoron). Deb’s sleep breath even and peaceful. I have awakened from sleep. It is the middle hour of the time I sleep. I can’t go back to sleep.
Sometimes I get anxious. I try to go back to sleep. I work at it. I clear my mind and listen to my breathing. I feel make my muscles relax, sinking into the mattress. I work so hard that I keep myself awake.
But other times, I stop my stress and I think, “This time is a gift. Night is a time when the body can lie here and the mind can play.” I relax without trying, imagining myself hiking, listening for the sounds of the house, sounds that I don’t hear in the day when we are busy. I wonder about those I love and how they are doing. I remember the day and imagine what tomorrow might be like.
Those nights I am glad to be awake at night. I am glad not to miss my mind’s musings—my soul’s soundings—my heart’s hoping. This quiet time can heal hurts and fan the embers of hope.
During these nights, I can understand what Richard Byrd, Arctic Explorer of the last century said about his falling asleep while alone in the frozen night of the north: “A man can live a lifetime in a few half-dreaming moments of introspection between going to be and falling asleep; a lifetime reordered and edited to satisfy the ever-changing demands of the mind.” (Burning the Midnight Oil: Illuminating Words for the Long Night’s Journey into Day, edited by Phil Cousineau).
Those gifts of quiet space between sleep and sleep are times for editing and reordering. I love them.