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Sleep is the Prayer of the Body

Sleep is the prayer of the body
shrouding itself in holy surrender.
It is an act of supplication,
with its secret longing for the things
embodied in luminous darkness.

What happens in that moment of
great release into the total eclipse
of night when the body descends
into the cradle of dreaming?
Does the breath suddenly become slow?
Does the heart become still,
barely perceptible, in its faithful work?

Or do they labor more heavily
to make space in the body for the rhythmic eruptions
of story and symbol
that beg me to awaken to a bigger life?

This is a lawless land. No
gravity or perpetual motion or
relativity or Murphy to guide me.
No map or compass either.
Where East is North and
South is nowhere to be found.

Is there ever a moment when the body
is so reluctant to return
to this other world of prayer
bathed in the harsh
blinding light of waking?

Or does it hesitate, longing to stay in the place
where the bigger life
is not so

Last week was so very full of work and working things through, a dear friend from California visited me for a couple of days too. Friday was my day of marathon gatherings and meetings with lots of wonderful moments I am still allowing to unfold.   My body exhausted and coming down with something, I have spent much of the weekend sleeping.  I released into hours and hours of delicious rest and dreaming.  I am reminded of a poem I wrote a few months ago which I share above. 

What is the prayer of your body while asleep?  What happens when you surrender to that other world and listen to its messages?

-Christine Valters Paintner

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3 Responses

  1. Hi Bette, Holy freedom is a wonderful prayer! I love crawling under the covers also, to regain my center and rest.

    Hi Cathleen, I do encourage you in your rest, I know with chronic illness there can be a bit of resistance because we want to be able to do things. As far as the dream question goes, I think I’ll make that into a post in the next day or two.

    Love and blessings, Christine

  2. Christine, What a wonderful idea of “prayer of the body while asleep”. At a thyme when my body is needing much rest, it’s helpful, no it’s a gift, to consider this as prayer. In a sense, it’s a thyme when my mind gets out of the way of too much thinking, and there’s more room for the bigger life show up. Now, to be able to recall my dreams ~ any suggestions? Blessings, Cathleen

  3. What a lovely poem, Christine. I can now look at sleeping in a new way, full of “holy freedom” is my prayer! I think all things are possible during sleep. Even if it is to go crawl under the covers for a quick nap or to simply find peace, mediation, and comtemplation – which I do often by the way :)

    May your body sleep and rest off any suspected illnesses lurking.

    Peace and hugs,