Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Awake, Ye Sluggards!

If there's one complaint that's common to just about everyone in my immediate orbit, it's that nobody gets enough sleep anymore. In fact, nobody has apparently gotten enough sleep since 1989, or when they had their first child, whichever came last.

Sleep deprivation is a condition that you can complain about all you want, but it will get you absolutely no sympathy –– zip –– because everyone you talk to is in the same boat. It's akin to griping about losing a toe in a leper colony: been there, done that.

That having been said, I've realized that lack of sleep in the Muley household has been even more pronounced the past week or so. Me and the missus haven't been getting to bed until after midnight most nights, and when we get up at 6-something each morning, we're depriving ourselves of at least two hours of needed shuteye each day. Sadly, the rare occasions when we can "sleep in" on Saturdays don't seem to erase the overall deficit very much.

Being a Christian and a reader of the Good Book, I would normally check to see what encouragement the Bible might have for my condition –– my desire for more sleep, more often –– but I know already that I'm not going to find much there. From what I can tell, anyone who sleeps or even grabs a quick nap in the Bible is not sinning, really, but nevertheless is in danger or something bad happening to them. To wit, here's a short summary of my research into famous snoozers of the Bible:

ADAM: He went to sleep alone, then woke up with stitches in his sore abdomen and a strange woman standing over him saying, "Get up, you lazy lump, let's go get lunch." And we all know where that led.

JONAH: This guy never learned. First, he fell asleep in the hold of a ship and ended up getting tossed overboard and swallowed by a fish. Later, he went to sleep again outside of Ninevah, only to find that the shady plant he'd been napping under shriveled up and left him baking in the sun.

SAMSON: Another guy who never learned. Every time he floated off into dreamland, Samson's tramp girlfriend Delilah got busy. This resulted in Samson awaking from a refreshing sleep to find himself bound in ropes or scalped with a debilitating haircut. It probably was a lot easier to fall asleep once they put out his eyes and threw him in prison.

JOSEPH: "Mr. Rainbow" was one of the many Bible figures who was troubled by wild dreams during sleep. In his case, his sleeping gave him dreams which caused his enraged brothers to throw him in a well and sell him into slavery. Later, while in prison, Joseph helped a baker who had also gone to sleep only to have a puzzling dream. Joseph told his new friend the baker that his dream meant the baker was bound to die, which he did. Thanks, Joe.

SISERA: This was a good thing, since he was an enemy of God, but nevertheless, Sisera went to sleep and never woke up, all due to a righteous woman named Jael who snuck in the old boy's tent: " Then Jael Heber's wife took a nail of the tent, and took an hammer in her hand, and went softly unto him, and smote the nail into his temples, and fastened it into the ground: for he was fast asleep and weary. So he died." Oof! I hate when that happens.

HOLOFERNES: A very similar story to Sisera's. Another tent in the middle of the night, another sleepy enemy of God's people (Holofernes), another righteous, weapon-swingin' woman (Judith): "[Judith] went up to the post at the end of the bed, above Holofernes' head, and took down his sword that hung there. She came close to his bed and took hold of the hair of his head, and said, 'Give me strength this day, O Lord of Israel!' And she struck his neck twice with all her might, and severed his head from his body. Then she tumbled his body off the bed and pulled down the canopy from the posts; after a moment she went out, and gave Holofernes' head to her maid, who placed it in her food bag." And my question always is, why the food bag? Where did it finally end up?

All the guys I have mentioned so far were Old Testament figures, but the risks of courting sleep continued on into the New Testament. Probably the most famous example was the disciples, who tried but failed to stay awake to be with Jesus in His time of need in the Garden of Gethsemane, and were called on it. Ironically, it was the disciples who earlier had chided Christ himself when He dared to take a much-needed nap on a boat crossing the stormy Sea of Gailee.

My favorite evidence of sleep=danger in the New Testament is when that poor soul fell asleep during one of Paul's long-winded sermons and fell out of a high window –– SPLAT! -- onto the ground below. As we know, Paul was nice enough to use God's power to restore the boy to life, but the underlying message seems to be not that Paul needed to use an hourglass, but that one should never fall asleep in church. If death were always the punishment for this crime, I'd have been gone long ago.

Of course, I don't mean to imply that everyone in the Bible who slept had something bad happen to them. John, a New Testament author who hadn't had anything published in quite some time, fell asleep on the island of Patmos, had a great dream, and turned it into a bestselling book called Revelation. Despite the fact that Peter was asleep, the Lord allowed him to escape from jail unnoticed. And even though Elijah was sleeping off his pity party under a broom bush, he was touched by an angel and awoke to find bread baking and water in the jar.

The refreshing "rest" most often mentioned in the Bible, from what I can see, is the eternal rest we will find with Jesus in heaven after we're dead. During our time on Earth, on the other hand, I sense we're supposed to be awake as much as possible, because that's when the work gets done, the Great Commission gets fulfilled, and the potluck dinners get thrown. Dedicated sleepers are called "sluggards" -- not a compliment, I take it -- and in Proverbs we're told we're supposed to model ourselves not on sloths, slugs, or hibernating bears, but on ants, who are indeed always busy, usually digging in my yard or my garbage cans when they aren't biting someone.

But the Lord's yoke is an easy one, and I know He wants us to get sleep; otherwise, He wouldn't have invented it, would He? After all, didn't the author of Psalm 23 get to finally lie down in those green pastures after the feasting and hiking?

So, I've concluded that I need to get myself to bed earlier, get more exercise, and quit whining about how exhausted I am most of the time. I am truly thankful that what sleep I do get doesn't leave me with a piece of metal through my brain or scalped or made into fish food. Thank you, Lord, for my warm bed. And if it doesn't go against your plans for me, may I see just a bit more of it in the near future.

Quote for the day:

"Blessings on him who invented sleep, the cloak that covers all human thoughts, the food that satisfies hunger, the drink that quenches thirst, the fire that warms cold, the cold that moderates heat, and, lastly, the common currency that buys all things, the balance and weight that equalizes the shepherd and the king, the simpleton and the sage."

--Miguel de Cervantes
from Don Quixote


Sottish Sophist said...

Haha. So far I love your blog. I hope you keep up with it. I'll be checking back for sure.

Muley said...

Thanks so much, Sottish (may I call you Sot?) I'm new to this, so I'm learning my way as I go. Hope you'll check back sometime to see what other foolishness I have manufactured.

Katalina B said...

I happened upon your Blog quite by accident. I must say, I have enjoyed your entries thus far and will check back periodically.
I have enjoyed your witticism and it appears you started your Blog on a whim as did it is a release for me to write whatever I please. I write for myself and not for others. I guess I would call it my "electronic" way of talking to myself and/or venting! I am not as good a writer as I would like to be, but once I sit down..the thoughts seem to flow!
Anyway...mulecy...thank you for writing(s)...they are truly enlightening and thought provoking!

PMcGrath said...

You forgot Holofernes. Never mind a tent peg -- he lost his head when he was asleep. Thanks, Judith.

Muley said...

Good catch, pmcgrath! I have added a bit about old Holofernes to the entry. I learn something new every day.