This morning, I am thankful for a rather odd thing: a sleepless night. Yes, despite the fact that I am well aware that my hours of wakefulness last night will make it difficult to manage my duties as Mom, Wife, Homemaker and Independent Contractor today, I finally have realized part of why I was awake. God was trying to speak to me… but I was not listening. (Sorry, God!)
Despite being tired, I woke just after one, being kicked and pushed by my sleeping children, who I was sandwiched between where I had fallen asleep in Nina’s bed, trying to put her to sleep last night, and where Luke had joined when Daddy got him to goagree to slumber. With a child on each side of me, I felt warm and loved, but hardly comfortable. Two wiggly sleeping wee ones and a pregnant mommy in a tiny twin bunk don’t make for the best conditions for getitng back to sleep.
So, I moved into Mike and my “big bed”, thinking I’d fall right back to sleep – WRONG! While my body screamed, “Sleep!”, my mind taunted “this” and “that”. Random thoughts and to do’s kept popping into my mind. Praying some. Concentrating on breathing. Even trying to count slowly. Nothing seemed to work. In fact, more and more thoughts began pouring into my brain, all but drowning any possibilities of sleep. Then, finally, my belly chimed in: “I’m hungry!” So, I got up for a quick snack and potty, but still didn;t feel ready to slumber.
At this point, I should have realized that God wanted to talk to me alone. He wanted me to be focused on just Him and His word — not the kdis, the house, work or anything else. But, I was too focused on sleep (or lack therefor) to realize, despite proven periods in life before when, awakened for no reason, prayer and contemplation have proved so fruitful and telling…
So, since one of my thoughts was of work, silly me turned on the computer and attended to some of my contract work. Then, I thought, “I am awake now. I won’t wake early enough if I fall back to sleep to check my other emails before the kids get going in the morning, so I will just do that…”
At this point, perhaps, I should have felt inspired to do what I sometimes do when I cannot sleep and get online — catch up on daily readings and prayer journaling. But, alas, I was too me-minded. Me wanting sleep, that is.
So, emails checked and deep prayer ignored, I tried calming myself to sleep once more. No dice. So, more me-stuff, and, finally, a fitful rest from about six a.m. until my Nina woke me about an hour and a half later with her independent attempts to self-serve herself a breakfast.
As I stumbled out to greet Nina and help her with breakfast, she smiled, jumped into my arms and said, “I love you, Mom!” No more reminder for deep prayer needed. Though the moment was quick, the prayer shot deeply! “I love you, Father! I am sorry I did not greet you when I woke as my child greets me, with deep joy and bright willing hands, heart and eye.” Then, Nina offered her morning prayer without my chiding — something she hasn’t done lately: “Dear God, I offer you this day. Please be with me in all I think and do and say.” Oh my – another brief, but deeply penatrating moment of gratitude and confession came over me as I squeezed my prayerful, bright little girl — “Dear God, I offer you MY day. Overtired as I am, I know you will be with me in all I think and do and say, if I simply recognize you in each and every moment. I confess that I have been too not-You-focused. I ask your forgiveness and ask you to help me overcome my bad habits and poor focus. Help me do and be all for you — awake or asleep!”
And, so the morning continued. And, then, just as I was about to greet Luke upon waking, I started thinking about the day ahead — what I should and need to do — and began letting mysefl fall into an attitude of anything but gratitude and joy all of the sudden. I looked at the calendar (a few things listed on it, including work tonight), my paperwork pile (getting so big, and with something due tomorrow), the window (great weather – should take the kids outside since it’s been kind of cruddy most of the week), the room (clutter, clutter, everywhere!) Then, “Woe, God! Sorry, again! Where’s my joy and thankfulness?” How lucky I am to have a while day ahead of me. How wonderful that I can share some of my time and talents at jobs that help children. How privileged am I to have a home to receive mail at and bills to remind of the temporary blessings of this life that so many toehrs don’t even have access to (electricity, water, decent health services, etc.). How wonderful that I have the time today to enjoy the great outdoors with my children. How… reframing my brain in a moment of pray and thanksgiving got flowing and I was feeling good. Until – the clutter! The clutter! THE CLUTTER!
I knew I should say, “Thank you for all the things we are lucky enough to possess.” But, I could not do so with a while heart. I feel brudened by things. I feel sinful. I recognize my gluttony, even if we are not big shoppers or wasters. I am a bit of a hoarder and I have let my home get out of control. And, it’s affecting all of us.
I commited to Order in the Home as an offering this past January. As a part of it, I restarted Thousand Things Thursdays. But, by February, the Thousand Things had halted. Then, more recently, 10 Minute Tidies have become fewer and farther between. And committed, daily progress has not been being made. Sure, attempts, here and there, and basic chores and upkeep have been attended to, but not sacrificial, prayerful, visible progress.
Then, just as I was thinking about all this, I spied my latest spiritual enrichment book: The Lessons of Saint francis: How to Bring Simplicity and Spirituality into Your Daily Life. Duh! I had just finished a chapter that included purging things. I had been reading about St. Francis’ deep joy and constant prayer. I had been reading about how he offered himeself to God. Why didn’t I think more about that last night? Why didn’t I curl up and read some more…
“God, I am listening. You want my joy. You want my gratitude. You want me to offer all I am and all I do to you. And youw ant my commiment on so many levels. The clutter in my brain that caused my wakefulness may be a direct result, at times, to the clutter in my home…” My prayer continued. Not quiet, reflective prayer – I will make time for that later because I sense that God still has more to say to me that I ignored last night. But, true, hard-hitting prayer.
And, so it is that I write these reflections out to remind myself later about what I have heard this morning as well as to share with others some inspiration for listening and praying during their own sleepness nights. Also, I begin anew my Thousand Things Thursday attempt as a concrete, visible offering. By tonight, I will purge my home of more phsyical clutter and reach toward a richer, yet simpler, spirituality.
In days to come, I will renew my accountability by posting the Thousand Things countdown numbers.
Thank you to any who have read my ramblings thus far. I would love to hear your comments and encouragement – as well as yout strategies for decluttering and your tried-and-true ways of commiting to deeper, more reflective prayer.
I also invite you to see what other folks are thankful for at the links at Spiritually Unequal Marriage.