“The business of the broken sleep is interesting, but the business of sleep generally is interesting. I once did without it almost all the time for several weeks. I had high fever and was taking cortisone in big doses, which prevents your sleeping. I was starving to go to sleep. Since then I have come to think of sleep as metaphorically connected with the mother of God. [Gerard Manley] Hopkins said she was the air we breathe, but I have come to realize her most in the gift of going to sleep. Life without her would be equivalent to me to life without sleep, and as she contained Christ for a time, she seems to contain our life in sleep for a time so that we are able to wake up in peace.”

The Habit of Being: The Letters of Flannery O’Connor, from a letter to “A,” dated October 20, 1955


  1. This past night I slept from 11 to 1, Eastern time,of course; then, spent 2.5 hours rearranging books, and spent 1 hour (from 3.30 to 4.30) writing on the laptop, and then (5.00 to 6.00) said Magnificat Morning Prayer and the Rosary. I think I nodded off for just a few minutes, sitting in the recliner, during the 4th Joyful Mystery (Sunday of Advent!). But yes, I can acutely sympathize with anyone who has insomnia, dyssomnia, apnea, or any other kind of sleep problem.

    A line that's going through my 2-hours-of-sleep-so-far noggin:

    "I live my Advent in the womb of Mary" ~ Jessica Powers, OCD (1905-88).

    (I'll blog the whole poem at Dark Speech soon enough.)

    But you know, it's rather a curious blessing to be awake at oh-dark-thirty, sipping on the earliest cup of coffee, and beginning to write. A blessing and a quiet joy.

  2. I hate not sleeping and haven't found it a blessing at all! That's the honest truth. If I could wish for one thing it would be deep and unbroken sleep.

  3. When I was little and I had trouble falling asleep, or staying asleep, my Mom would suggest that I say a few Hail Marys. She would also say, " Don't try to sleep. Just rest." That seemed to calm me a bit. To this day, or night,I do find saying the Hail Mary five or 65 times does help. Jane, I hope you get the peaceful sleep you so desire.

    If when I wake too soon and it is close enough to rising time, 5 am or so, I get up and I too read my Magnificat. I am always grateful for that morning prayer!

  4. Love the Christmas-lights-from-your-bed photo. Just might string some up like that myself!

    I often read in Habits of Being during the wee hours when I can't sleep. Always seems to help.

  5. In The Force of Character, psychologist James Hillman writes:

    "So much goes on at night; not only dreams and reminiscences and prayers; not only fears, those visiting demons who sit on the edge of your bed and recount your blunders and worries, and then fly off (as vampires do) one morning finally comes. Even more insistent are pressing toilet calls."

    He has a whole idea that the reason our skin gets drier, our hair thinner, etc. as we age is that we are lightening up so as to be ready to fly away…he also thinks (I may be paraphrasing or I may have read it elsewhere) that we wake more in older age because the world is calling for our prayers…

    I have a purple glass rosary given to me by my friend Frank Crean after his wife Louise died (Louise collected rosaries and this one is quite…baroque) that I clutch in my ancient palm every bedtime…if nothing else, we can sit with Christ for an hour in the Garden at Gethsemane…as many have said, the Rosary…and of course there's always Pandora…

  6. I like that — sitting with Christ in Gethsemane during times of insomnia. Will have to remember that for the next bout of insomnia (all too frequent they are, as it seems for so many readers of this blog….)

  7. Your "ancient" palm? Geez, Heather.

  8. Keep your shirt on, chryder, that's a joke! I actually like to play up my age hoping against hope that people will take pity on me, be kind, send money…my God, in the olden days women my age got to sit in a rocker all day and knit. Now we're supposed to embark on new careers, wear mini-skirts and learn tumblr…


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