Of my many quirks, one of the most distinctive is that I hate to sleep. I really do. Every night when I finally turn off the lights, it’s like a personal failure for me. Five and a half to six hours of sleep a night is pretty standard, and should I find my eyes closed for more than seven hours I will usually get upset.
The reason is simple. There is simply too much to do on this earth to waste time sleeping. Ask yourself, how many books have you not read (and be sure to check out Sarah and Mike’s recommendations)? How many people haven’t you met? How many roller coasters have you not ridden, how many movies have you not seen, how many places have you never visited, how many subjects are there about which you know absolutely nothing? How many people are crying out to be clothed, and fed, or even just loved?
Ask yourself how many things there are in this world that you haven’t done yet, and then ask yourself if you really want to spend one-third of your life unconscious. For most people, the answer is a resounding yes. I’ve posed this question to countless people and they all assure me that yes, they really do want to sleep for eight hours or more a night. To each his own, I guess.
Now I’ve never been very good about attending mass on Holy Days of Obligation, but since my parish is St. Mary of the Assumption I am usually pretty good about making that one. My schedule, however, is booked pretty solid for the next few weeks, and has been for the past few as well.
I felt a bit like Tony Rigali, quoted in the satirical Catholic news site Eye of the Tiber on why he was going to have to miss mass last Thursday: “And I wanted to go so bad. Obligations, obligation, obligations! What can I do? They’re obligations and they gotta be taken care of.”
I decided that my best bet would be to go before work, but that would mean missing the gym. Now that I attend a CrossFit gym I really enjoy going, and missing a day on purpose wasn’t very appealing. I’m also training for a half marathon, however, and realized that if I ran to church instead of driving I could both get in a workout and fulfill my obligation.
My pacing was pretty spot on, and I walked through the doors of the church at 6:59, just seconds before the priests’ entrance. Since I sat in the last row I am pretty sure I didn’t offend anyone with my stench, but I did get a couple funny looks in line for Communion. No one else was wearing gym shorts and a sweaty t-shirt, nor were any of my fellow communicants sporting an armband and headphones.
That night, after work, I went to the track where I volunteer twice a week with some inner city kids. As the summer has gone on they have gotten more and more restless, and since we were down a couple of volunteers that night I had 20 or so six- and seven-year olds mostly by myself. It was a challenge, and in particular a couple of the boys were far more interested in horsing around together than listening to anything I had to say.
At the end of the night, two of the more rambunctious boys were told by their fathers to go say ‘thank you.’ Instead of just walking over, thanking me, and slapping me five like they do on most nights, they both sprinted over and gave me a big hug. I wasn’t expecting it at all, and it made my night.
On the day of the feast Mike said that the example of those whose lives proclaim the greatness of the Lord inspire him to keep going. For me, Quinn and Lochlan’s hugs, and the smiles of all of the other kids, is what keeps me going. “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them,” says the Messiah, “for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
If I can help those kids get to heaven, or to the next grade, or even just safely into next week, I’m happy to forgo a little bit of sleep in order to do so. This way, when I finally fall asleep in the Lord, I might hope to awake in him as well.