Before moving Dad into his new apartment in a senior living facility, he told me he didn't go to church one Sunday because he had not fallen asleep until 3:00 A.M. So many thoughts about his upcoming move were racing through his head. He has never been a sound sleeper, so I was not surprised, but who wouldn't be making lists in one's head with such a major change days away?
Falling asleep is generally not my problem, although I, too, lately have had a hard time emptying my mind and setting aside today and tomorrow. The more common problem, however, is returning to sleep after the inevitable bathroom trip around 3 in the morning.
When I was staying at the St Paul apartment by myself not long ago, I couldn't return to sleep. Therefore, I decided I might as well turn on the light and write. I was full of lists, questions, plans, visions of what was to come. Behind all those pragmatic issues were anxieties and doubts, as well as desires to be on the other side of all that had to be done.
The Moving Theme
Here's what was racing through my head.
1. Dad's move to his apartment.
2. Our move out of the St Paul apartment, which will happen Thanksgiving week.
3. Our move from the apartment into a house in St Paul. Closing is the day before Thanksgiving.
4. The beginnings of a move from our Madison home to the St Paul. No, we haven't sold that house yet, but we hope by buying this house we give a mighty signal to the Universe, "We are serious. We are ready."
5. The dispersal and emptying of Dad's house of all that remains, in order to put the house on the market after the first of the year. That's a lot of possessions. Trust me, a lot! Have you started getting rid of all you have accumulated over the years yet? Don't wait another minute, even if you are reading this at 3:00 A.M.
6. The dispersal of what we can't use in the St Paul house, which our grandson Peter calls The Little House and is considerably smaller than our present house--an intentional choice. But what do we do with all the excess to accomplish this downsizing goal?
7. The move to a small apartment in Madison once the house is sold, since Bruce will continue to work at hospice four days a week.
No wonder I couldn't sleep!
Time to Pause and Reflect
If I were at Dad's, I could have packed another box or two, but I wasn't there, and frankly, there was a more important task at hand: the task of breathing myself into letting go, of finding peace with where I was at that very minute, of treating my body to restorative, necessary sleep, of remembering Julian of Norwich's mantra, "All will be well."
One of the tasks was to remind myself of my own lecture -- take one step at a time -- and to remember that I am not taking these steps by myself.
At that moment the middle of the night was the time offered, a clearing the space time to remember the reasons for all these moves; the Big Picture that continues to feel right. In the quiet of night before morning light was the perfect moment to give thanks for all the blessings in my life, including the tangible treasures that were yet to be packed and moved from one place to another.
I was awake in that early morning hour in part, I think, because I had not carved out the time in the day for my usual routine of meditation, study, and writing. My body and my heart knew that and so gave me a signal to wake up. Wake up, so you can rest. A reminder that we each truly know what we need.
I recall a story about our son Geof when he was 4 years old. His normal routine when I took him to his day care center in the morning was to join a group of kids and enter into play. Suddenly, he changed that routine and went off by himself instead to read or play quietly with a puzzle. His day care teachers were concerned and wondered if something was going on at home. Of course, I worried about that all day at work without coming up with a reason, until we went home that afternoon.
His normal at home routine was to go play quietly by himself till dinner, but winter was becoming spring, and his buddies were waiting for him to play outside. I realized Geof had figured out what he needed to do to get the quiet time he needed. He adjusted his day, his normal routine, to accommodate his needs. Such a smart kid--and I was delighted to explain the change to his teachers the next day.
Back to Sleep
I know I need time to reflect, to process, to empty out, to sit quietly in reverence and during the days of my Dad's move, 3 o'clock in the morning, although not ideal, was the available time. I needed my daytime energy, for each day was impossibly full, but it was still important to be alert for ways I could adjust and create that space for myself. That will be necessary for quite some time, I suspect, for moving is the ongoing theme in my life.
After writing for awhile, taking time to breathe, to pause and give thanks, I turned out the light and slept soundly till the alarm went off later in the morning.
In what ways is the theme of moving showing up in your life?
What are your 3 o'clock thoughts?
In what ways do you need to adjust in order to give your body, mind, and spirit what you most need? I invite you to comment.