In the last few weeks, I have apparently entered a period of wakefulness at night, something I have been plagued with from time to time. I am a light sleeper, I guess. If the alarm clock light is too bright, I might awake. The cat jumping on the bed may also do the trick. Thunder will rouse me. Maybe even a sigh from a child. I don't usually stay awake, thankfully, but return to sleep fairly quickly. In these times, nighttime can be just a series of naps, strung end to end. Sometimes I am sleepy the next day; often, I am not.
I've wondered why this is, even read about it, and I can't pin it on anything. It comes, it goes. Like the wind. Like the Spirit.
When I'm lying there for what few minutes I may be conscious, I sometimes do wonder if God has awoken me, if there is something I need pray about or maybe something I need to get up and do. Praying can be difficult, but I try, a kind of stream of consciousness, meandering and vague. I wonder if God thinks it's like listening to a sleepy child, one trying desperately to wring one more minute out of the day but fading quickly, sliding into nonsense babble. When my son was young he talked to keep himself awake, often to himself, falling asleep mid-sentence. Maybe my babbling is what "praying in the Spirit" really is --- sensible only to God who hears the heart even when the lips speak gibberish.
Perhaps because of such punctuated rest, I remember more dreams. In the last few weeks, I have been in a plane crash, narrowly missed being struck by a train which jumped its tracks and barreled down the yard beside my house, and suffered a home invasion. A few nights ago a few large oak trees in my backyard uprooted themselves and walked away while I watched. Eerie. It'd be nice to talk about that, in the moment so to speak, but everyone is asleep, even the cats, though I nudge one with my foot to see if I can get a response. No, just dead weight.
Sometimes I think I should get up and do something productive with the time, like balance the checkbook. Likely that wouldn't be wise. Or write letters, unintelligible though they may be. But I don't. I just lie there enjoying the quiet, the accentuated noises of the night. Cicadas. Now and then the creak of a settling house. The faithfulness of the heat pump, coming on and turning off all night while we sleep, because we asked it to. The sound of my breath. The beating of my heart. Rain on the roof, wind in the chimney.
I get up and look out the window at the street outside bathed in streetlight, see the neighbor's cat walk sleepily across the street. I wonder if it has insomnia too?
I used to tell my children that there was nothing to be afraid of at night, that everything is in the same place as in daylight, only dark. I don't think they believed me.
To think --- some people who sleep all night without awakening never get this pleasure, never know what they're missing. Lucky me.