I didn’t sleep well last night
I didn’t sleep well last night. Monkey mind was in high gear, swinging from branch to branch, project to project, and person to person. I’m grateful we’ve evolved past most primate behaviors, though I wish monkey mind would disappear into oblivion. It’s no friend to good sleep.
After a quick read of the morning’s news, I decided to explore what other people do to consistently enjoy the dreaming that goes with REM sleep. I logged on to a host of websites and learned all kinds of useless things. But here’s the best: A Japanese company named Takara invented a dream machine that stands 35” tall and sits beside your bed. Equipped with a picture frame, fragrance dispenser, voice recorder, internally stored background music, speakers, timer, and a set of colored lights, this machine purportedly allows a user to design nighttime dreams.
You get to choose a photo of your desired dream to put in the frame a few minutes before hitting the sack. By focusing on that image, choosing your preferred scent, programming the music you want to associate with that dream, and then recording some words that describe your fantasy, you’re ready for the pillow. The timer aims to synchronize the release of this dream activity with that period of REM sleep that we all need.
A desired dream programmed to play out in my head at night sounds pretty slick. Yet even if I could have that dream of a sweet vacation spot showing up on a nightly basis, there’s still the wakeup into a world full of people whose daytime dreams go unmet. No gadget will walk back poverty, free the wrongly incarcerated, end indifference, eliminate hate, and crush every cruel disease. Something else is needed for those daily nightmares.
The biblical prophets actually dreamed of the transformation of daytime life. If daytime needs could be sufficiently satisfied, they reasoned, every soul would sleep in peace. Assault weapons would be melted into garden rakes. Ravenous wolves would dine peacefully beside gentle lambs at the dinner table. Poverty would cease to be treated as a disease. Injustices would stop. If I’m honest with myself, and my faith has any legs beneath it, that prophetic vision still remains a more extraordinary dream than even the best vacation to a Caribbean island.
When I don’t sleep well at night, I still wake up excited to be in a world where God is trying to get God’s way and snap us out of some of the havoc we wreak and nightmares we create. I’m not depressed that we still live in a nation where too many people are judged by the color of their skin rather than the content of their character. I get angry about it, but not depressed. That’s because I enjoy living with enough hope to believe that we can figure out how to better honor God’s will and end the nightmares that constitute too many daytime lives.
The Bible concludes with a dream. “I saw a new heaven and a new earth … coming down out of heaven from God.” Whenever we see glimpses of that dream realized (mostly because we’ve decided to act selflessly enough to trust God’s will above our own), everyone sleeps better at night. Even me.
Peter W. Marty, senior pastor