Wednesday, February 27, 2013

In Ceasing Activity

I read an article about the effects of sleep deprivation on physical health.
I was wondering what the body does while it's sleeping.
I've noticed over the last few years
that I have a lot of pain in surgical sites that grows when I am tired,
and it fades when I am rested.
As I get older and acquire more history (medically speaking),
sleep feels more and more restorative to me.
And the lack thereof feels more destructive.

The body corrects chemical imbalances while we sleep.
It regulates blood sugar, cleans up its memory files.
In ceasing activity, it maintains memory.
Without sleep, we become a danger to ourselves and others.
Daily maintenance and healing occurs in deep sleep.
If we don't go through enough REM cycles, healing won't take place.
(Night nurses, take notice.)
Pain is intensified by lack of sleep.
It weakens the immune system.
Healthy young men have blood sugar levels
that resemble those of diabetics
after only six nights of reduced sleep.
It spikes cortisol levels -- cortisol is a stress hormone.
That leads to hypertension.
And obesity.
They grow old before they are old.

While we think we are being more productive,
the reality is that death is setting in.
Our relationships suffer,
our memory fails,
and we become chemically imbalanced.

And then there is the effect of light.
Natural light directs the body's sleep cycles.

But artificial light interferes with human health.
It makes us wakeful when we should sleep.
And we stop healing, and remembering what we ought to,
and maintenance of the body fails.
And then we sleep when we ought to wake.

"The body sets its own natural clock by comparing itself to light,
be it the sun or now artificial light from light bulbs.
As a result, the body can get confused
as to when it is supposed to perform the actions necessary during sleep.
Before the invention of electricity,
the body and brain could easily set their own rhythm,
maintaining themselves and warding off
the now apparent physical effects of too little sleep." 

As I read, I marveled.
In quietness and rest, we gain strength.
In standing still, we see the Lord's work accomplished.
Repairing the damage from life here on earth,
restoring the mind, and organizing its learning.
The Lord gives sleep to His beloved.

Furious activity is made possible by artificial light,
but we ought to be walking in His Light.
Measuring ourselves by Him,
and sleeping to be restored;
sleeping to remember.
"I am the Light of the world," He said.
Walking in the Light, and sleeping, and healing;
and blocking out the artificial light that undermines our spiritual health.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

In Among the Ruined

Main Street, Beit Shean
Wherever He went --
in villages, cities, or the countryside --
they brought the sick out to the marketplaces.
They begged Him to let the sick
touch at the least the fringe of His robe,
and all who touched Him were healed.
~ From Mark 6

It's a true story.
But Jesus told another about a man who'd been accosted 
and left bleeding on a road. 
On a road with plenty of space 
for the 'holy' men to cross to the other side 
before they became unclean with the touch of bleeding death.

Unlike those men, our Jesus waded in among the ruined.
He let His clothes and Himself be grasped at by the desperate;
by the ones dragged and carried to Him;
the ones who limped to Him;
and the ones who crawled along the way,
trying to stay out from under the trampling feet of the healthy.

There were, I am sure, those who had earned their misery.
They had done what ought not to have been done,
and were suffering in themselves the due penalty for their sins.
And there were those who had been sinned against by others,
or failed in some way by those who ought to have been more careful.
He was a magnet for them all.
For the broken and the damaged.
The ones forbidden from the sanctuary.
The ones forbidden from society.

The fringe of His robe would be where the dirt collected.
Where the dust of His feet was kicked up in a cloud.
Maybe I can touch some of the dirt that touched Him. 

I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,
and He turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair,
out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground
and steadied me as I walked along.
He has given me a new song to sing,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what He has done and be amazed. 
They will put their trust in the Lord.
~From Psalm 40

I was so foolish and ignorant;
I was like a beast before You.
Nevertheless I am continually with You;
You hold me by my right hand.
You will guide me with Your counsel,
and afterward receive me to glory.
~ From Psalm 73

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Practice Makes Perfect

It's been one of those days.
They started in on each other early,
griping and ordering each other about.
Over and over again, I corrected wretched behavior,
and wretched words,
and ugly expressions.

While I cut up meat for the crock pot dinner this morning,
I heard a tumult arise in the living room.
One of them had unleashed frustration and smacked another.
The one who was smacked had been forcing a foot into the other one's face.
But it had been in retaliation for the smacker's foot rudely placed.

Part of training to be family, is being a family in training.
"This is not kind, and you will speak kindly to your sister."
"That is rude, and you will not do it."
"You speak nicely to him."
"No. Try again. That was the wrong way to do that."
"Be respectful. Speak politely."
Over and over and over again.

They are siblings already.
But they must practice brotherly love.
Years of practice and discipline
will (hopefully) one day be worked out in real love.
You see, my dear siblings and I
did not start out with our arms wrapped around each other's waists,
and longing to be together when we are apart.

We practice how we ought to behave,
and we mature to feel what we ought to feel.
We cry with joy over each other's babies,
and share our food willingly,
and stay up all night long waiting for good news,
or praying our fears into help,
and coming to the rescue when lives break down.

We stop responding to offered help with a punch in the eye,
and we grow to accept the massage,
or the steadying arm,
or the help dressing when we've become too weak to do it ourselves.
Because that is what brothers do.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

On Election Day in a Foreign Land

The new king makes pretty speeches:
He crowns himself with gold.
My King comes in frankincense,
His bloody death foretold:
In thorny crown and naked flesh,
Himself my treasury.
The new one offers years of wealth 
and false prosperity.
But my King says, "Here, take this Bread --
I'll break Myself for thee."
The new, in pomp and circumstance,
establishes his throne.
But my King, carrying all my shame,
conquered death alone.
When He had put to death my sins,
the ones that conquered me,
His living, breathing righteousness
resurrected me.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Before Leaving Them to Sleep

I laid down on my nephew's sleeping bag with him last night to visit before leaving them to sleep.  He was trying to tell me about an event, and referenced the timing of it by mentioning an event in the life of a woman we both know.
"What is the thing when we worship when someone dies?" he asked with his five-year-old pronunciation.
"Um... a funeral?" I said.
"Yes. A funeral."
I like that.
Yes, a funeral.
Where we worship the One who is Resurrection and Life
even in the face of death.