Daily Beauty, Day #20: Sleep

I am writing this post at the close of my day, and so naturally thoughts of sleep have crossed my mind. As I encountered these thoughts, I wondered suddenly if sleep could be a topic for a “daily beauty” post. At first it seemed rather silly. Sleep is such a basic element of our lives, a necessary component of the cycle of living, that it hardly seems to warrant much reflection.

But if I have realized anything from writing these posts, it is that beauty is usually present, even in the most ordinary or unsuspecting of places. Sleep is no exception. Many of us look forward to sleep, because it offers an opportunity to rest our weary bodies and spirits. Sleep leads us into an escape from the world. It removes us from our problems, if only for a few hours, and allows us to steep our souls in dreams, believing that the best can really happen, and the worst, if ever realized, somehow cannot hurt us here.

And yet, I think there is more beauty to sleep than this. I see the beauty of sleep as tied to its creation, inextricably linked to its Creator and its role in our lives as a gift. Sleep was given to us for the purpose of rest. Some days give us cause for rejoicing and others give us cause for suffering. Yet all days end in night and all days begin in morning. No matter how dark or dreary a day has been, we lie down at its end and rest. We have the chance to renew our strength for the next day’s dawn.

But sleep is more than a decision that we make. Yes, we do have the ability to form our own habits pertaining to sleep. However, we all need sleep. We need to rest. We need to set aside our worries and our fears and relax into the serenity and peacefulness of night. We need to experience the silence, to slow down our breathing, to quiet our thoughts. To cease our activity and step away from motion into contemplative calm.

I think this need for sleep mirrors a deeper need. We are often busy, often stressed, often overwhelmed with noise and movement. We often enter a new chapter of our lives with no knowledge of how it will close or how we will ever make it to the final page. We often do not know where to direct our future steps.

But sometimes, we merely need to wait. Sometimes we need to rest awhile, to let go of our tightly held control and slip into the peace that He provides, to pour our concerns into His care and wait. This silence, these moments of contemplation are not simply “wants” of the human soul; they are needs. We can wander through our days ignoring this call, but the exhaustion will soon seep into our spirits; the call will become a longing then an ache for something more, for a life without the toil and struggle of carrying our own burdens.

We need to sleep. We need to rest. It is a necessity of life, but also a gift that we are given. And as a gift, the attitude in which we receive it is significant. Although we need to loosen our grip, we are also perfectly capable of resisting this “letting go”. But resistance is tiring. Life, unassisted, is tiring. We can choose whether to keep striding forwards blindly or to stop for a moment and listen, to see what we hear as we rest.

As for me, I think I’d like to go to sleep.