"to youth and natural cheerfulness like emma's, though under temporary gloom at night, the return of day will hardly fail to bring return of spirits. the youth and cheerfulness of morning are in happy analogy and of powerful operation; and if the distress be not poignant enough to keep the eyes unclosed, they will be sure to open to sensations of softened pain and brighter hope."
-emma, by jane austen
i love this novel, and i especially love this excerpt. i go through the day stressing or worrying about things that i know won't really keep me up at night. "...and if the distress be not poignant enough to keep the eyes unclosed..." jane austen makes sleep sound like such a wonderful little healer. you can stress all day about something that seems so important or so upsetting, go to sleep, then wake up with total perspective. upon waking you are "...open to sensations of softened pain and brighter hope." i love that. i once heard somebody describing sleep as your body's way of cleaning off it's desk. your brain has to sort of sift through everything that was put into its "inbox," decluttering spam and junk mail, and re-prioritizing tasks that need accomplishing. this makes sense to me, because when i wake up, i often have a perspective shift on what is tolerable, what is important and what is urgent.
now there is, of course, the occasional (or not so occasional) tragedy that causes distress that is poignant enough to keep the eyes unclosed at night. this little quote only refers to the youth and cheerfulness we might experience when the relief of morning comes. but, sometimes, what is slipped onto your desk is suffering from which morning brings no relief.
today in my email devotional that i recieve daily, it said "...a person who forgets what god treasures will not be filled with joy..." this is so convicting. i don't know how many times i have prayed for joy, but this is a reminder that joy comes only if i remember what god values. do you know what the bible says about suffering? to consider it pure joy. isn't that just what we want to hear when crap is being shovled onto our desk? no. but, god values suffering. and god treasures us drawing near to him when we suffer. so, even when the youth and cheerfulness of morning cannot relieve or soften pain... we can still experience true and uninhibited joy knowing that we need "...not be afraid or discouraged... for the battle is not yours, but god's." (2 chronicles 20:15)
my 15 month old son, harper, has a small chenille blankie, which he calls his "picky." he loves it. it is soft and white and smells like saliva. when he sees it, he roars at it like a lion, and then he kisses it. when he kisses it, he smacks his lips needlessly loud. he's in love. as soon as you say "wanna go na-night?" he drops whatever he was doing, and sprints as fast as his little bow legs can take him, laughing wildly the whole time. he loves his picky, his crib, his little ocean music machine, and he loves to say hi to all of these things as soon as his bedroom door closes behind me. "hi! hi! hi!... (pause)... hi!" maybe his desk needs to be reorganized, or maybe he is just sleepy and super pumped about it. who knows. but harper thinks that sleeping is god's gift. and i think i am starting to agree. jane austen suggests that sleep is the healer, but perhaps sleep is just a little gift from the healer. perhaps.
so here's to sleep, to whatever saliva soaked object comforts us, and to god's goodness for allowing us the chance to have joy, even when morning fails to bring return of spirits.