This post is dedicated to the many of us who struggle with insomnia, for whatever reason. I chose the word ‘suspended’ for the title of this post (and painting) quite deliberately. The experience of sleeplessness, for me anyway, feels like being suspended in a night-time bubble, somewhere between wakefulness and slumber. Sometimes it’s like being pushed and pulled by a relentless tide of anxiety offering no rest.
Yet I have had many tangible experiences of grace as I wrestle with this complex and frustrating state of being. I am left with the sense that there is something curious and mysterious about being in that night-time bubble.
Grace came to me in the moments between tenaciously trying to sleep and the overwhelm of giving up.
Grace came in the little snippet of time where my mind was side-lined, where God seemed to divide my bones and marrow and allow me to perceive The Presence that exists within and beyond myself.
Grace came in the peculiar kind of silence where God speaks without words.
Grace was in the invitation to surrender to the world that is moving and happening, invisible to the matrix-like world of the everyday.
If I hold on to these experiences- which are so hard to describe- I can see that this invitation, this grace is always there.
Thomas Merton (1915-1968) beautifully expresses the way we are held by God in these restless hours:
Insomnia can be form of contemplation. You just lie there, inert, helpless, alone, in the dark, and let yourself be crushed by the inscrutable tyranny of time. The plank bed becomes an altar and you lie there without trying to understand any longer in what sense you can be called a sacrificeThomas Merton, The Sign of Jonas
There is a river of wisdom, affection and healing that we access at the very heart of our frailty. May we all journey forward with our nets full of gifts as we are graced to lean into Spirit long enough to hear her whispers.