Oh my pigeons, I am learning such a smart thing. It’s called Going To Bed Early.
Listen! Really! Wait ’til I tell you!
The radical idea is this. When you get finished with your ministerial duties for the day, whether that be in the early evening or at night or even in the afternoon, you actually decide that you are DONE WORKING FOR THE DAY. Then you do everything you can manage to do to prepare for the next day while you boil some water for tea. Keep this time-limited so that you have some quiet time before sleep.
That preparation might be getting the recycling ready to put out.
Or clipping your toenails.
Or putting dirty dishes in the dishwasher or clean dishes away from the dishwasher.
It might be folding laundry and getting the kids’ clothes ready for tomorrow.
It might be making a list (but don’t check it twice, because Santa’s Union people will get you).
It might be packing a lunch.
It might be checking in with your spouse about arrangements for picking up someone from work or switching cars or delivering the kids somewhere.
Let whatever it is be practical, helpful and simple. Don’t try to make any big decisions. Do not launch any important conversations. This is your winding down time.
After you have completed the necessary, simple and helpful tasks, settle yourself somewhere quiet with your tea. This is the magical part. Listen to your body and your breathing. Get comfortable and warm. Think of nothing but your breath. Be with God.
It is in this time that you will very likely come to realize that you are very, very tired.
Now you have a decision to make.
You decide to accept the weariness and to be present to it in love and compassion.
You do not start worrying about Dec. 22nd pageant.
You do not begin a creative process in your head about 2014 programming.
You do not rehearse a conversation you are dreading having with a difficult staff member or parishioner or family member.
And then, without getting involved in e-mail, Facebook, gift wrapping, the television show your roommate is watching, brushing the dog or grouting the bathroom because what better time i better do it now, you go to your bathroom, wash your face well, brush your teeth, do your necessary business, and go to bed. Guess what? It might be 8pm!! It might be ridiculously early. Try it. You may find, as I have, that your sleep schedule will not be ruined by the radical concept of getting 9 or 10 hours of sleep when you’re exhausted.
Maybe you already do this. If so, then indulge your Auntie PeaceBang, because she has found it revelatory to actually follow this program. Of course I don’t manage this every night, but I do I manage to do it a couple times a week lately. In September and October and November, I went to bed without washing my face or brushing my teeth too many times because I did not recognize, respect or allow how tired I was. After Thanksgiving I promised myself that in the season of Advent I would practice what I preach and respect my body and spirit better than that.
And also, my skin and teeth. Eww!
Happy December, pigeons!! I throw tinsel upon you!