Friday, March 7, 2008

Keeping Vigil

You Are Midnight

You are more than a little eccentric, and you're apt to keep very unusual habits.

Whether you're a nightowl, living in a commune, or taking a vow of silence - you like to experiment with your lifestyle.

Expressing your individuality is important to you, and you often lie awake in bed thinking about the world and your place in it.

You enjoy staying home, but that doesn't mean you're a hermit. You also appreciate quality time with family and close friends.

I have to admit that I'm enjoying the occasional posting of a Blogthings quiz on Fridays. No matter how many serious topics to cover I still have on my list, by Friday afternoon it's hard to stay in the frame of mind necessary to discuss the evils of compulsory education law, the McCain/hawk problem, and why McCain's unquestioning support of globalism is one of the most troubling aspects of his candidacy.

So I'll put those on hold for a moment, and share the above quiz instead, with a few reflections.

I'm surprised at how well the quiz author pegged my favorite time of day. Midnight is a lovely time; in an ideal world I'd never be in bed before two or three a.m. There's something so wonderfully peaceful about a house that is settling into a deep quiet, about the hushed and still atmosphere, about the dim light and quiet voices (luckily for me, Mr. C. is a night owl too). I find it refreshing; sometimes it seems as though some normally quiet part of my mind doesn't really wake up until the hands of the clock start to point to Cinderella's doom, and from the recesses of thought come notions and ideas that have probably been percolating all day. During the summer I sometimes take advantage of that nocturnal creativity, and work well into the small hours on some tale of fiction that has proved elusive in broad daylight.

Of course, at this time of year, I'm constantly in flux. Accidentally staying up too late means that one of two things will happen the next day: I'll be a zombie, or I'll sleep in too late in the morning, which will make me stay up too late again, beginning a cycle that can be hard to break. But even when I'm really trying to go to bed at what most people would euphemistically refer to as "a decent hour," I find that I may or may not be able to quiet that stream of thoughts that rises in the middle of the night; I may sleep an hour and then seek vainly to return to sleep, having enjoyed a "nap" at 11 p.m.; or I may not fall asleep at all, and become so engrossed in my thoughts that I'm shocked and horrified to see the bedroom clock indicating that the hour is approaching 3 a.m.

True insomnia isn't really something I deal with very often, but one Saturday night in the recent past I was awake until nearly 6 on Sunday morning, falling into a short sleep and awakening at 8:30--just in time to get up for 11 a.m. Mass. There was a time when that would have been a real day-killer. But a year or so ago a period of wakefulness like this occurred right after I'd learned of a tragic event in the life of an acquaintance; ever after that I've thought of those occasional bouts of frustrating wakefulness as the opportunity to keep vigil with those who are awake for sorrowful or anxious reasons: a death in the family, a serious fight between husband and wife, a child in the hospital, a fretful baby who is up for the third straight night in a row with teething problems or diaper rash or colic, worry over the impending loss of a job, or any one of the other reasons people are robbed of sleep. I think of those I know who might be in those situations, and ponder the many I don't know who are also struggling; I present them to God, and offer the tiny sacrifice of my cheerful acceptance of my sleeplessness; I pray for them, that they will soon be granted peace and healing.

Though this doesn't always bring sleep, it does bring tranquility. I'm able to let go of that feeling of frustration anyone who has ever been unable to sleep knows well, and to regain my ability to relax. And the next day, that sense of tranquility remains; fortified by caffeine, I get through whatever the day requires of me.

I'm sure that morning people sometimes have this problem, but in reverse: waking up two or three hours before dawn (or whatever time they usually arise), they find themselves unable to sleep, too, and offer a similar prayer since they have found themselves, however reluctantly, awake too soon. I like to think that all over the world on any given night there are people who are wakeful and who offer this wakefulness to God, on behalf of those whose sorrowful eyes can't close, or whose anxious eyes remain open by the sheer force of the worry they are suffering.

By this time in my life, I'm fairly sure I'll always be a night owl. So, to my fellow vigil keepers who awaken around three or four in the morning from time to time--I'm glad you're there. I'll keep watch in the middle of the night, praying for all of us; and I'll happily fall asleep when you wake up and take over as you wait prayerfully for the dawn.


Alexandra said...

Thanks for keeping vigil from another night owl.

Anonymous said...

I'm a sunrisse! =)