Saturday, May 7, 2011


Fr. Dale Matson

“For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.” (Psalm 127:2b)

For some reason, the need to sleep is viewed by many as a weakness. My grandchildren resist sleep until they are overtaken by it. The diagnosis for cranky children is that they are tired and the prescription is that they need a nap. My late father used to deny that he had fallen asleep reading the paper. “I was only resting my eyes.”

I am here to confess that in addition to 8 hours of sleep at night, I also take naps almost daily. There, I’ve said it and if you think I am weak then so be it. Those who claim that they never nap like to rub it in with a large dose of guilt. They exclaim, “I could never find the time to nap. My day is so busy.” I also arise at 4am in the morning and retire at 8pm in the evening. It has been this way for the last twenty five years or so. Friends and relatives so enjoy saying to Sharon, “Oh, it’s 8pm, Dale must simply be exhausted.” Wink, Wink.

When I tell others that I take naps and look forward to them, I get looks of puzzlement or pity or discomfort like I had just admitted to watching professional wrestling on a regular basis. These same people tell me that they only sleep about 5 or 6 hours a night and never nap. Well, I guess they are real grownups and don’t need that much sleep.

My naps tend to be of two kinds. The hard naps are about 45 minutes to an hour. These are the naps I awaken from and wonder what day it is. Someone who is closely related to me but will remain nameless has been known to take 3-4 hour naps on occasion. She rarely naps intentionally. My favorite nap is on Sunday afternoon following a sermon at two services. I’ve earned that nap and there is absolutely no prior guilt. (Some of our parishioners have chosen to nap during my sermons).

There is also a short nap that can be of 10-15 minutes duration. It is unbelievable how restorative these short naps can be. As an ultra-runner, I used to train a lot on the trails of Yosemite. During the drive home, the endorphins would combine with the fatigue to gradually overpower my sense of alertness. I could feel myself falling asleep. The Wawona Store parking lot was my short nap midpoint refuge. Following a mere 15 minute nap, the remaining 64 miles back to Fresno was easy.

Here is the point of my confession without contrition. Go ahead and take a nap and by His authority committed to me, I absolve you of your guilt.

“Sweet sleep that knits the ravell’d sleeves of care” (Macbeth)

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