Monday, 1 October 2007

The Service of Sleep

It's been one of those days that have been quite productive. Some days I can be so engaged in busyness or preoccupation with this thing or that but at the end of the day have nothing obvious to show for it. Today, I think, I can look back and see some of the things that have been accomplished. But even then, when I start thinking about all of that, the loose ends of so many things start dangling before before my eyes. There is always so much unfinished business! There is always so much to do, and maybe a sleepless night of meandering thoughts lies ahead, with loose ends that lie close.

It's been some years now since I have regularly said Compline before going to sleep. There have been times when it has lulled me into sleep or provided a peaceful passing into the pillow. Compline is the completing hour: it puts an end and lays to rest the things that have past, the mistakes and misfortunes, the regrets and reflections. I love that prayer from Compline: 'At this evening hour your Son our Lord Jesus Christ lay in the tomb and so hallowed the grave to be a bed of hope for all who put their trust in you.' The going to sleep and laying to rest at night is an image of that final slipping into sleep and, as my former Incumbent used to say, 'Where there's death, there's hope!'

And so I think of those death bed words of St Francis who is quoted as saying, 'Let us now begin to serve the Lord, for up to now we have done nothing.' It's a rather humble and self deprecating departure (especially when you consider what he did accomplish in his life) but one that places himself totally in the hands of the Lord. It may sound as if he has some loose ends to sort out or, rather, that there is always more to do. But, for me this night it is, I think, about a giving of himself for service even when sleep finally comes. And so as I prepare to climb the stairs the service of sleep awaits! What a wonderful way to regard it, especially in a 24/7 world, where you can shop when you like and work when you want and party til the darkness passes. In fact, half way through writing this I received a phonecall from someone at 11.10pm. - a friend who called for a chat! But now that and everything else is behind me. It's been a busy day, one of those days that have been quite productive, I think, though one thing remains: so let us now begin to serve the Lord, for up to now we have done nothing. Ah yes, it's time for sleep. Goodnight.

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