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July 30, 2010
Three-thirty in the morning, and I am awake. Why? Not even the birds are awake yet. I lie in the dark, willing the time to pass until it is four o'clock and I can get up, but I end up jumping the gun a bit, telling myself that I haven't really broken my rule because it's already four o'clock in Bolivia.

The puzzling nighttime wakefulness of middle age used to alarm me, until I made the decision to embrace napping as a spiritual discipline. For many years, I had declared myself constitutionally unable to fall asleep during the daylight hours. This was either a fiction I believed myself, or I have changed my ways: whichever it was, things have changed. Now I look forward to a nap the way some people look forward to Happy Hour.

And if you wake up in the night and can't go back to sleep? Don't fuss yourself about it -- get up. Do something you'd like to do -- catch up on a chore you've been putting off or sort out a drawer. Write something. Hold off on the vacuuming - people are trying to sleep. Read. You'll probably get tired and fall asleep again. Or you can take a nap this afternoon. After work. Or at work, maybe -- take a careful look at some of your colleagues this afternoon: have they moved since lunch? Have they said anything? Do they appear to be very focussed on the document before them? They could be. Or they may just have mastered the art of sleeping sitting up.

Jesus napped. He was such an experienced napper that he slept right through a storm at sea that almost swamped his boat, rousing only when awakened by his terrified friends so that he could order the water to be still. Maybe he curled up again after doing that and caught another forty winks.

So then, good news: napping can be Christlike! I used to think that I could trust my body to do anything I wanted it to do. That was not quite right -- I can trust my body. But my body is not my slave. My body is my partner. It has rights of its own.


Economist Carol Stone over at Ways of the World has been thinking about the events surrounding the firing of Department of Agriculture official Shirley Sherrod. Read what she has to say at
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