Later last night I was in a difficult conversation with another friar, which always keeps me awake. Then, at midnight EST, the bus from the afternoon wedding returned to the front of church, releasing its horde of revelers, many of whom hung out loudly for another hour and a half. A couple of hours later, thanks to Daylight Saving Time, it was time to get up and open the church. Trying to pray and lead prayer in this state reminded me of one of my favorite passages from The Sign of Jonas:
On and off since Easter I have been playing a new game called insomnia. It goes like this: you lie down in your dormitory cell and listen first to one monk and then another monk begin to snore without, however, going to sleep yourself. Then you count the quarter hours by the tower clock and console yourself with the exact knowledge of the amount of sleep you are missing. The fun does not really begin until you get up at 2 a.m. and try to keep awake in choir. All day long you wander around the monastery bumping into the walls.
Insomnia can become a form of contemplation. You just lie there, inert, helpless, alone, in the dark, and let yourself be crushed by the inscrutable tyranny of time. The plank bed becomes an altar and you lie there without trying to understand any longer in what sense you can be called a sacrifice. Outside in the world, where it is night, perhaps there is someone who sees that something he has done is horrible. He is most unexpectedly sorry and finds himself able to pray.... [4.28.47]