Thursday, February 21, 2013


I used to be such a morning person -- up and out for a three-mile walk at 6:00, focused and hard at work by 8:00.  Since Josh's death, no longer the case.  I sleep so poorly and erratically that I have to make new accommodations every morning to compensate for the night before.
This morning, as so often happens, I was awake at 4:00, four or five consecutive hours of sleep being the most I can usually manage.  I fell asleep again within a reasonable time period ~ some mornings I don't, at all ~ and awoke and fell asleep and awoke again for good at around 8:00. 
I had been having a wonderful dream about Josh, Josh among dozens of teammates marching delightedly through an underground tunnel and onto a soccer field for the state championship soccer game.  We parents were behind a glass window and suddenly Josh broke out from the crowd of boys, dancing and leaping in the air and thoroughly enjoying himself.  Just as suddenly he was no longer a high schooler, but an exuberant fourth or fifth grader, with his bowl-cut of white blond hair flying through the air.  "Look!" he yelled.  "One way glass!  Our parents can see us, but we can't see them!"  And he continued to jump around and then ran back toward his group.
I placed my hand on the glass, trying to reach him, to touch him.  "Come back to me, Josh," I whispered.  "Come back, come back, come back . . . ".  Through a glass darkly, that's how we see now.
The tunnel, the state finals, the exuberant soccer player from elementary through high school ~ those all happened in real life.  The glass window; that happened, too, in another place, a terrible place.  A crematorium.  The words ~ I say them every day.
I lay in bed, realizing I was too awake to go back to my dream.  That occurs sometimes; sometimes he is so alive, so real, in my dreams, that I try desperately to fall asleep again.  Once in awhile I succeed, but it's never the same.

So I stretched out in bed and began to think about the day.  A day inside, at home, with three major projects, each completely different from the others, to occupy me.  I have had to change the way in which I work as well; I have to prepare even short sets of materials over long weeks rather than over a few days at a time.  I remember the first paper I wrote after returning to seminary.  Ten pages; it should have taken a couple of afternoons, at most.  It took ten days, an hour each.  I had lost all powers of concentration.  I'm in much better shape now, but I still can't rely with any assurance on my ability to focus for very long when I'm alone. 
I think back to the meetings over the past couple of days at church.  There is so much for me to learn about pastoring a community. This community. Sometimes I am right on the mark; others, not at all.  I said something last night intended to convey enthusiasm and encouragement, which I genuinely felt, and it was immediately deflected into something else.  This morning I see my error, and I wonder at my inability to comprehend the culture of my church.  There were so many other moments during which I felt something quite the opposite of enthusiasm, and I was pleased when I was able to offer compliments and support.  Which didn't work as I intended at all.
I consider the rest of the day ahead.  This evening I will be meeting with someone who is making the Spiritual Exercises.  That will be a delight.  We are about half way through, and he is deeply engaged in his blend of prayer and work.  Like a Benedictine, I suppose ~ except not  at all. 
Well, I am up, and getting hungry, so I suppose I'd better prepare to engage in mine.  Ora et labora.  Here we go.


  1. Fitful sleep is part of the terrain of middle aged womanhood, exacerbated but the stress, strain, and trauma of recent life. Some day I hope to make the Spiritual Exercises....Hoping the rest of your day goes well enough. (no doubt the challenges of learning a parish culture and all the unintended miscommunication is a strain, too - sorry you are experiencing this...)

  2. I would be so happy if I could sleep uninterrupted for four hours. Usually it's no more than two for me... As Terri mentioned, the terrain of middle aged womanhood. Sigh I think this is why I seldom remember my dreams, anymore...

  3. Last Friday after 26 years of teaching I reacted wrong on two occasions, but I guess the experience paid off since I eventually got to a better place. This winter I have not been able to wake well. Hoping the sun gets me back to liking mornings. Peace and Hope... and serenity