Tuesday, July 24, 2012

all through the night

Sleep my child and peace attend thee
All through the night
Guardian angels God will send thee
All through the night
Soft the drowsy hours are keeping
Hill and dale in slumber sleeping
I, my loving vigil, keeping
All through the night

We haven't been getting nearly as much sleep as we'd like around here. Jon and I, busy and mildly stressed as we are in anticipation of the move, are often up late, packing and planning. The girls sense that stress, undoubtedly. And Peanut, old enough to understand the constant countdown to Moving Day and the huge paradigm shift that will come with it, is pushing back a little. I can hardly blame her: I moved once as a child. Once. And I hated it. This will be the poor kid's third move into her fourth home. The fact that she's anticipating this change with anything approaching happiness is, frankly, pretty remarkable in my eyes.

And then there's Bubby. Perhaps it's teething, or her ever-increasing ability to run and climb everything, or her expanding vocabulary, or one of any other developmental changes she is experiencing that is causing her sleep to become so troubled. Or it could be that - as happened at this age with her sister before her - my milk supply is tanking, leading to her incessant need to nurse at night. Whatever the case, I am not feeling particularly well rested lately.It wears thin. Nerves, already frayed by a month-long heat wave, are simply snapping under the strain. Our attempts to maintain a peaceful - I mean relatively, of course - home are coming up short more days than I'm comfortable admitting.
Lately, Peanut has been telling us about her dreams. She dreams vividly, this imaginative soul of ours. Most recently, she has been dreaming of dolphins. When first she told me this, I responded saying, "Oh, that's a nice dream to have."

"No," she replied, "it was a bad dream." 

Apparently she seems to have missed the bit about dolphins being fairly peaceful, non-threatening creatures and her dreams are about water near our home and dolphins swimming up and down, up and down and then eating her

No, not a nice dream to have at all.

She does have good dreams, too. She recounted to me a few days ago that Jesus visits her in her dreams and takes her for walks. It was so sweet and sincere, the matter-of-fact way she told me this, as though Messiahs often visit the sleeping and take us all for a stroll at one time or another. She tells me He takes her to visit her cousin. 

And I wonder: how much is imagination, and how much is her childhood wisdom, her sight - unhindered by jadedness, uninhibited in her innocence - looking clearly into the mystical world of dreams, veiled by night?

Does my four year old know something I don't? More importantly: does my four year old know something I should?


As we lay together in bed this evening, easing her into night, into rest, we read stories and then turned on a cd of lullabies. "Talk to me, Mommy," she said. "Tell me through the song." And I did as I had first done last night, and likely will each night for the foreseeable future. I guided her into sleep, meditatively, soothingly, calmly. Voice pitched low, I recounted her day, and led her into rest. Slowly telling her how her body longs for rest and stillness, we used words to ease her flesh and her mind into stillness and dreaming.

"Your arms and legs are tired. They are heavy and still. Your body wants to sleep now, so you can rest and grow. Tomorrow you will be ready for more fun. You will be ready for another day. 

"Breathe slowly in....and out. In....and out. 

"You are going to have good, wonderful dreams. And tomorrow you will wake up to the sun."


And she slipped off into dreamland, quickly, quietly, in my arms. Breathing in...and out. Carried into rest on the wings of her mother's words and her conviction of Grace.


  1. Anonymous10:41 PM

    I enjoyed this. I think I am ready for bed now...

    My mother use to sing "All through the night" to me at bed time. I was a... talkative child...and as saintly as my mother was/is, I suspect that she sang it through clenched teeth on occasion seeking divine intervention to simply shut me up.

    My own tradition is to sing Paul Gerhardt's hymn "Now all the woods are sleeping" to Charlie at bed time. We love it. And yet beyond the words for me at least is the rhythm of handing the world and ourselves back to God after a day of trying to do everything ourselves on our own power. I sometimes think this power struggle is a weakness and yet what a privilege it is to re-learn and be re-assured of God's grace, each night.

    Now all the woods are sleeping
    through fields the shadows creeping
    and cities pause to rest
    Let us, as night is falling
    on God our maker calling
    sing praise to God who loves us best.

    The radiant sun has vanished
    its golden rays are banished
    from deepening skies of night
    But, Christ, the sun of gladness,
    dispelling all our sadness
    shines in our hearts with warmest light.

    Now all the heavenly splendor
    breaks forth in starlight tender
    from myriad worlds unknown
    And we, this marvel seeing,
    forget our selfish being
    and know a beauty not our own.

    All is good.


    1. Oh, what a lovely song. Thank you.



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