Feb. 21, 2008
Last night as I lay in bed, my mind racing in typical midnight fashion, I wished desperately to turn off the faucet of my verbal outpouring. My mind doesn’t shut up as well as my mouth does. Sometimes, I think that I stay so busy during the day in order to block out all of this thinking. Maybe it’s why I avoid going to bed at a decent time. The night hours are so noisy and overwhelmed with my thoughts. Thoughts that I don’t always like, or want to acknowledge, or that are absolutely fabricated by my skewed world view; trying to sleep only reinforces my perceived madness. Peter, my little deep thinker, who complicates the simplest idea all through out the day, seems to fall asleep within seconds at night, it seems he’s done all his roughest thinking already. This, his ease of achieving rich, instant sleep, irritates me. He, in his throes of deepest sleep and then me suffering with restless leg syndrome, tossing from side to side, and add to that my leaky faucet of my brain drip, drip, dripping away. I try and concentrate on my breathing. Slow, deep methodical breathes. In and out. I concentrate on the muscles in my face. Are they tense? Yes. I relax. I un-furrow my brow. I let my mouth ease out of a tight line. I allow my shoulders to drop back. Think green, think shalom, think rest, think quiet…no, no, dammit, stop it, don’t think anything at all. Just breathe. In and out. You see how it goes. I’m a gerbil running in my cerebral rat wheel.
Sometimes, I count sheep. This has helped a few times. I imagine fluffy, little, white cartoon sheep smiling at me as they leap over their brown log fence into safe pasture. I am their good shepherd and my responsibility is to make sure each one is accounted for. One and two and three little sheep…four and five…wait, two sheep leapt over at the same time. That’s not good. Now I need to reorganize the sheep. This starts to get tedious. The sheep in my head won’t jump over the fence in single fashion. My undisciplined sheep. My undisciplined mind. At this point, I give up reaching sleep and I just let my mind run, eventually I get so bored with my thoughts even I fall asleep.
Then they haunt me in my dreams. Can’t you thoughts just leave me alone! I don’t mess with you, now you don’t mess with me. Right? Wrong. My thoughts don’t play fair. So there they are in my dreams, like the neighbors annoying dog with incessant nighttime barking. My thoughts unfold themselves in a dream as a daughter that I have, named Adeline, who I can’t seem to find anywhere. The name Adeline, I learn, means noble. Is my psyche telling me I can’t find my nobility? Or in the next dream I have a beautiful, infant daughter, who smiles at me in the most charming way. I’m enchanted by her and so proud of her, but when I go to buckle her in her car seat, I allow someone else to sit with her in the car, even though I desire to be with her. But because I feel I am not polished looking like the people in the car I don’t make a fuss. What does this mean? Am I afraid of good things, and do I let other people have better things, even though rightfully their mine, because I don’t feel I deserve it, or because I’m not good enough? If so, why am I punishing myself? And did I even know I was doing this? No, I didn’t, because I don’t think about stuff like this.
I used to put a lot of faith in my dreams. I valued them. I handled each one with unique care. I felt each one was a special message for me, and that I could gain understanding of myself and even God through my dreams. However, after a while I let much of that go. I think I grew weary of deciphering messages. I also grew weary of people who deciphered messages, particularly, in the Church, they tend to be creepy and out of whack. I do not want to be like them. I am NOT like them. So I reject them and I reject this part of myself. Why does everything need to be in code? I shake my ignorant fist at the sky. I don’t need to understand the depths of my psyche. And for that matter if God wants to speak to me, He should do it in a way that isn’t so complicated or strange. So I let go. I let it go. I let them go. I let Him go. I stop chasing my thoughts. Ignorance, is, after all, bliss. And I am ready to have mine.
But bliss only lasts so long. Perhaps, in my case, only during the day, but at night, knowledge pounds on my heart. I began to ask the questions that my busy mind doesn’t have time for during the day. As soon as you stop chasing your thoughts, they start chasing you. Like a dog after a criminal and your doing your best to hide your trail.
I once heard someone say that our conscience is another word for that tiny small voice that resembles and sounds just like God’s. God is our conscience? What? In running from my thoughts, my conscience, my knowledge of right and wrong am I running from God?
I am praying more – more directly, more honestly, more authentically. And I’ve noticed as I allow the vulnerability of these thoughts that I have pushed down for the last few years to pour out of my heart to God’s ears as prayers, I’m starting to feel more in touch with myself and also, more in touch with God.
Maybe tonight I will stop counting sheep, and just let my running verbal faucet pour into a well of prayers for God’s ears.
Silent night, Holy night.