My husband teases that “I am tired” is the phrase he most often hears coming out of my mouth. He hears it first thing in the morning as I snooze the alarm for the third time in a row, pull the duvet up past my ears and scrunch up my eyes against the morning light, as he stand over me, fresh out of the shower, hair still damp, and grins down at my daily battle of wills with the sun to give me an extra hour.
The sun always wins.
I say it too when thoughts and challenges and plans begin to overwhelm. I dream myself back towards my bed in hopes that it might delay the need for action, the need for a decision, the need for another ounce of courage.
I have a memory of a dream I had when I was very young. In my dream I was sleep walking. I had walked downstairs in the darkness. The door to the living room was ajar and in the light that came out of the door I could see my parents sitting and reading. I walked out the back door and along the path at the side of the house. The path was cold under my bare feet.
And I looked up, up the wall on this side of the house with no windows, just honey-coloured stone, and I saw the moon big and white above me, so bright that it lit up the world around me so the garden was silvery bright.
And that was the moment I realised I was still asleep.
In her now-famous Ted talk, Brene Brown said that when we try to numb ourselves to the hurts of life, the pain, the hard emotions, we lose so much. Because we cannot numb selectively. When we choose to protect our hearts from the most heavy feelings, we shut out the joy too.
One morning not long ago, I woke up early. And I made a choice to stay awake to the hurt, knowing that was the best way to receive the healing.
That was a big hurt and was – is – a slow healing.
It counts for the smaller things too. Maybe it’s even more important for the smaller things because the ocean is, after all, made up of drops. I need to choose to stay awake to every feeling. Feel the challenge so I can feel the reward. Feel the loneliness so I can feel the friendship. Feel the doubt so that I can feel the faith. Feel the fear so that I can feel the courage.
There’s an ancient proverb that says,
Do not love sleep or you will grow poor;
stay awake and you will have food to spare.
And it occurs to me that maybe it’s meaning is deeper than working hours and alarm clocks set. There’s an abundance that can be found when we stay awake to all that life ushers through our doorway. When fear keeps my soul hiding under the bed covers from the new day, then I become poor. When I open my eyes to the dawn and embrace whatever it brings, then I become truly rich.
And food to spare is food able to be shared. Out of my own abundant harvest, I can feed others. And there’s little I love more than a feast with friends, to gather many around our old wooden table, squeeze in one more chair, dig out one more plate and set of cutlery – or just dive in with your hands – and enjoy!
Let’s drink and eat and declare this table a sacred space. And I’ll pour you another glass of wine, tear fresh warm bread into shareable chunks and talk and laugh and this is life and this is communion and this is what I’m staying awake for.
Awake, my soul.
Linking up with SheLoves Magazine today, for their synchroblog on the word “awake”. Come join us?
Let her sleep print by Yellow Button Studio