About Sleeping

"We sleep away a good third of our lives. Hence, sleep belongs very much to our everyday life as an activity and art form that all are able to engage in and practice.

"Is there such a thing as a theology of sleeping? Most certainly there is. In a wonderfully earthy way, scripture first of all confirms our own experience with sleep: It talks about the solid sleep of the one who has worked hard, the destructive sleeplessness of the one in charge of many things, the excessive sleep of the lazy one, and similar things. But scripture also sees in sleep an image and reflection of a deeper reality of human existence: the image of death, the image of dead and deadening dullness, the image of being mired in sin. Also, scripture sees in sleep an inner relaxation, where a person is receptive to the instructions of God (as if given by the Lord in one's sleep), a time for meaningful dreams that can clarify God's directions and call and that can perhaps make one conscious of what is otherwise repressed.

"Yes indeed, everyday sleep is something very mysterious. People are individual and free, autonomous and self-directed; but when sleeping, they surrender, let go, entrust themselves to the powers of their existence that they themselves did not create and cannot oversee. Sleep is an act of trusting one's deepest inner conviction, one's own certainty, and the goodness of the human world. It is an act of innocence and of consenting to the elusive. If one approached sleep like that, not as a merely dull succumbing to physiological mechanisms but as an agreeable and trusting acceptance of an utterly human act, then falling asleep could be seen as relating to the inner structure of prayer, which is equally a letting-go, an entrusting of one's own inner conviction to the providence of God which one lovingly accepts. It is small wonder that a Christian has the impression that sleep should be preceded by evening prayer which, depending on the one praying, must be a willing, cleansing, and conciliatory saying goodbye to the day and its everyday life and an entrusting of oneself to the mystery that always lovingly envelops us. By welcoming sleep in a prayerful way, one also bestows a blessing upon the dark depth of one's own being where sleep takes us. And the angels of God, not those of the dark deep, will be guarding our sleep.

"Then sleep is peaceful and relaxed, a communication with the depth in which needs to be grounded and rooted whatever makes us free as human beings, all conscious planning of life, if we want to remain whole or wish to be."