I slipped out of bed tonight, unable to sleep. There is a strange, settled peace about this; sleep is far from me, and yet I am rested. It indicates that I am better tonight than I was in more recent times, when I yanked on the door of slumber when I needed it or not, longing to escape. I've been begging for sleep lately. Tonight, I let it wait for me.
I sat on the top step in a dark house for the first time ever, in this house. I listened to the dark, sensed the rise and fall of my childrens' breaths, heard the clicking of the kitchen clock as the seconds slipped by.
I prayed, recognizing that the rhythm of the daily office I've come to embrace had been lost in the chaos of the past week. There is a new comfort in an old wandering; other times, when I knew that I'd slipped out of a disciplined routine, I'd be lost - disconnected, off track and always carrying some degree of guilt and shame. Neglect never feels good, whichever end you're on.
Tonight, though, I realized that the chaos robbed me of discipline - and nothing more. Nothing has changed. The daily ritual is there, unaltered, unhindered. I can step back into the routine and relax into that same rhythm. It is even more comforting to sense the legacy, the history of the daily office - the ritual of the common prayer book. This is an ancient rhythm, and I am not alone, regardless of where I step into the tune. The past week has required a different sort of discipline, and it handed back to me a paradigm shift and several questions.
I prayed tonight for people I care for. I prayed for my husband, my hand resting on his arm as he tossed and turned, restless, his mind and his head congested. I prayed for Lisa, and for John, for Debbie and Keith, for Kelley and Anjie, for Jeannie.
And I sat on the top stair and contemplated, here in the middle of the night, what a gift we are given when we are born. Life. I remember nights of fitful sleep, nursing babies at too-close intervals, days trudging through all that children required and endless hours of wondering when I'd ever come up for air. Not long ago, most of my nights were like this: late, contemplative, with the promise of days following that would see me zombie-like, sleep-walking through sunlight.
Sometimes I feel like I slept-walk through an entire decade, with five kids born over nine years.
And yet here I am today, seemingly catapulted - but not really - into a new season, one that grew and bloomed out of all that was planted in those late nights of nursing and nurturing my children. Now I'm up for myself, chasing my own hunger. It seems to have happened quickly, but that's only because I never had time to notice what was changing. In fact, it's a slow ebb and flow of time, of the changing seasons, of shoe sizes and hair cuts and candles on cakes, of hash marks on a door frame and children who can literally look you in the eye. Before they grab the keys and drive the car by themselves.
I am so thankful tonight, just to be alive. To be part of the human race. To feel a sense of purpose, hemmed in by my family and a deep, true, good love.
Strange and unexpected thoughts for a sleepless night. I'll take it.
(And I am laughing a bit, at myself, because I just heard the scratchy sound of gravel in the driveway, the muffled booming of the car stereo faintly through the window. My eldest just got home from a friend's house, and I realized that deep down inside, I was probably awake because I knew she would be driving home late...so maybe some things never change, regardless of whether or not I feel like I've gotten past the kids being the primary reason for sleepless nights in my life...)