“Don’t worry, Mr. Phillips. You’ll be asleep through the whole process.”
I think she meant it to be reassuring. No, I’m sure she did.
I’m not all that reassured.
I like being awake. I’ve spent most of my life being awake. I remember things that have happened when I’m awake better than otherwise.
I don’t sleep much—a habit the man who’s doing the procedure in a day or two says I need to break. Come to think of it, that may be what he’s trying to help me with by having me sleep while he works. He’s going to give me a jump-start on breaking the habit of not sleeping.
It’s a habit I’ve cultivated over a lifetime, one I don’t wish to have meddled with.
A few years ago, my young son-in-law sat at the dinner table one day and voiced his complaint. The month-old baby in my daughter’s arms was the object of the young father’s concern.
“He just won’t go to sleep. It’s like he’s afraid he’ll miss something while he’s out.”
All of us gathered at the table chuckled sympathetically, but the words rattled around in my head and hit a little closer to home than he intended.
I don’t want to miss anything!
Oh—in a day or two, I’ll lie down and let them put the IV into my arm and I’ll sleep. I really don’t think I need to be awake while that nice man runs a probe through my arteries. I actually believe that may be one of the few things I’d like to miss.
But the rest of it? The conversations, the mealtimes, the concerts, the bike rides, the hugs, the tears, the singing, the soccer games, the shopping trips, the weddings, the funerals, and all the other events that make up a lifetime?
Those I don’t want to sleep through.
It’s time to be awake.
I remember sitting in the pew as a boy and singing at the top of my lungs (I always did) as the song leader swung his arm in that familiar 4 beat pattern.
Work, for the night is coming,
When man’s work is o’er.
It’s a great hymn, reminding us that we need to be up and doing while we have time. The figurative night is the end of our life.
But, I have a problem.
I don’t know about you, but it seems to me it’s pretty dark in the world now. The shades of night are all about us.
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In what we once called the Dark Ages, people gathered together in walled cities for protection against each other, closing the gates to any who were outside. Inside lay safety.
Religious factions disparaged each other from the safety of their fortresses. Petty kings and rulers did the same from theirs.
Outside, chaos ruled. Fear was the law of the land. Those with power took whatever they wanted. The common man survived, but only just.
Still, it’s not time for sleep yet. Now is the time to be up and doing.
In the dark.
We’re not home yet.
It’s time to shake off the sleep. Time to drink another cup of coffee or splash cold water on the face.
Whatever it takes.
Perhaps, Mr. Frost said it better than I can. If it comes to that, I’m sure he did.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep. *
I’m still awake.
I want to keep my promises.
This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living.
(Romans 13:11-12 ~ NLT)
*(from Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening ~ Robert Frost)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2017. All Rights Reserved