Sometimes when I crawl in bed at night I can’t go to sleep because I mentally rehash every trouble or concern in my life until each muscle in my body it so rigid I can’t relax. Then I worry that I’m worrying too much. Before long, I’m checking the clock again noticing another hour has passed. Eventually I have to tell my mind, “Stop thinking! You can not solve one single solitary problem in your pajamas while you’re in bed in the middle of the night. Let the day go. Face tomorrow when you wake up.”
Sometimes this personal reprimand works and sometimes it doesn’t. If it doesn’t I close my eyes and imagine I’m sitting alone at the beach on the Oregon coast watching the waves roll toward my bare toes wiggling in the sun warmed sand. Then I begin a relaxation game. First I become aware of each muscle in my body beginning at the top of my head and working down. I tighten each muscle then release. Next I imagine my arms and legs dissolving like sand into the sea. If I have another worry thought and tense up again, I have to start all over.
Once I’m relaxed I listen for my inner rhythms, the steady beating of my heart - the constant rise and fall of breathing. If I turn off my worry thoughts long enough and allow myself to simply experience the moment, my tension dissolves and I feel as though I’m floating. This gentle cadence of pre-sleep relaxation takes me back to when I was a child and had the simple faith to drift comfortably into slumber knowing God was watching over me.
Like the waves on the beach, like the beating of our heart, life is continual motion. We can not hold on to yesterday any better than we grasp a wave in the palm of our hand. Nothing is still; nothing is unchanging. There is no way to stop the constant pulse of the cosmos. Yet the Master of the Universe mercifully allows each day to end so we can regroup and refresh before the next wave.
There are times when unexpected challenges come at us like sudden storms at sea. When we feel most adrift or afraid, it helps to take a deep breath and go deep. Somewhere anchored inside each of us is stillness. Like the eye of the storm, this private quiet center allows us to be at peace even during the height of the tempest or against the stiffest wind. Hope and gratitude allow us to ride out the storm until the dark clouds part and sun shines through again.
So, when we’re lying in bed at night worried about the storms in our life, we have to tell ourselves, “Stop thinking and start listening. We can not solve one single solitary problem while we’re looking outside ourselves for the answer. Take a deep breath, go deep and feel the stillness.”
Storms come and storms go. The tide comes in and the tide goes out. If we are searching we’ll find hidden treasures in the quiet tide pools among the rocks when the tide is out and we never know what new gift the next tide will wash up on the shore. No matter what happens to us – life goes on. Sometimes we are on the beach watching the waves roll in and sometimes we have to get up and dance in the rain.