God gives to his beloved sleep

I've been sick all week, in a fog of partial wakefulness. My house is a disaster of half-done chores and piles of clutter I can't bring myself to focus hard enough to tackle.

My coughing fits could wake a village, so Jim's been sleeping on the couch. He had the plague before me, and the quarantine has made housemates of us.

Achy and weak, my body feels outside of my control, and I remember it is, even for the most disciplined among us. We can nourish our bodies and exercise and rest, but we still can't stop the sick.

(I'm not so great at any of those three, if we're being honest. I've subsisted this week on toast and something called Biscoff spread.)

I lie there coughing and remember that Welcome Wagon (and the psalmist's) refrain:

God gives to his beloved sleep.

Sleep is a gift I've taken for granted since the children began sleeping through the night. But they didn't for about four years, and life was foggy then, too. I remember keeping a night watch as I breastfed James, praying particularly for the grieving and longing mamas with empty arms.

I turn on the light and find my copy of The Night Offices. If I weren't alone tonight, I wouldn't read this liturgy now, and I try to receive this, too, as a gift.

O God, come to my assistance.
O Lord, make haste to help me.

Two lines turn my sunken, inward gaze a few degrees.

Darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day; darkness and light to you are both alike.

Before we married, Jim and I were long-distance for our entire relationship. I remember getting on plane to leave him, again. The rain beat down angrily, and the sky was so dark it looked much later than it was. My eyes blurred with tears as the engine roared and picked up speed, getting farther and farther from the only place I wanted to be.

The plane lifted off the runway and into the grey, climbing fast through the clouds which quickly obscured the airport and city below. The was nothing to see but thick clouds and water.

But then we broke through the clouds and into the pink sunset, an ethereal wonderland of light, texture, and dazzling color so bright my breath caught.

Darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day; darkness and light to you are both alike.

The litany leads me to pray for the Church, for friends and enemies, forgiveness and grace.

Lord, in your mercy, hear my prayer.

I am reading a book that tells me Trappist monks greet the day and the Lord together at three every morning. I pray alone, but there are others keeping watch (and they won't go back to sleep!). They are far more faithful and practiced, and somehow their prayers buoy me, these unseen pilgrims along a shared way.

Now guide us waking, O Lord, and guard us sleeping; that awake we may watch with Christ, and asleep, we may rest in peace.

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