by Sarah Dunant, I liked this passage that talked about the 2:00 A.M. office of Matins which is observed in monasteries and nunneries.
This novel takes place in an Italian, 16th century, Benedictine convent. There were many young girls living there, and this passage begins with them: Girls of their age are greedy for sleep, and Matins, slicing its way through the middle of the night, is the harshest of all the convent offices.
Yet its brutality is also its great sweetness, for its very meaning is to coax and draw up the soul through the body's resistance, and when one is pulled from sleep there can be less distraction from the noise and chatter of the mind.
Zuana knows sisters who, as they age, grow to love this service above all others, to feed off it like nectar, for once you have disciplined yourself to transcend tiredness, the wonder of being in His presence while the rest of the world is asleep is a rare gift, a form of privilege without pride, feasting without gluttony.
I found myself thinking, "Yes, I experienced that feeling during the 2:00 A.M. feeding when I had babies." It happens now when I have a sleepless night. I feel like I've been given a precious gift of time and quiet alone with God.
I didn't feel that way with the first one or two. I was mostly aggravated then. It took more precious children, realizing with each subsequent one how swiftly time moves on, to begin to appreciate and cherish those early morning feedings.
And now when I experience the occasional sleepless night, I get excited to have a house that's perfectly quiet. It's a great time to pray, think, and plan. I sit on my front porch swing, turn on the fan to keep the mosquitos at bay, and have a great time alone with my heavenly Father.
And if it's a bright, moonlit night, I might go bike riding...which reminds me of the time one midnight when the moon was almost as bright as day, I woke up my older children to come take a ride with me. Laurel couldn't be stirred, but Garrett came. We made a great memory that night. I'm sure many more memories will come flooding back in this upcoming year when he goes to Iraq. But we won't go there now...