I couldn't sleep on retreat. Maybe it was the unfamiliar place, or the noisy house, or the cycles of the central air conditioning, who knows. But it made me reflect a little on trying to make spiritual friends with the night hours.
I find it curious. Religious life is definitely for morning people. Morning prayer and conventual Mass are usually early in the morning. When you live in community, the early morning is often the best (or only) time to find quiet for peaceful prayer or reflection.
On the other hand, the two greatest mysteries of our faith, the birth of the Lord and his Resurrection, happened in the middle of the night. Jesus was born in the night, presumably with only Mary and Joseph as witnesses. Of course it's normal to be born at night. The Resurrection seems to have happened at some moment in the night following the Sabbath of Good Friday night and Holy Saturday. Jesus, good Jew that he was, rested on the Sabbath, and didn't want to start the work of renovating the world until it was over. And there were no witnesses to the Resurrection itself.
On every feast and solemnity the psalmody for morning prayer declares, "On my bed I remember you, on you I muse through the night." (psalm 63) And in the night prayer for each vigil of Sunday we pray, "Lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the Lord through the night." (psalm 130)
With so much spiritual mystery to the night, it's funny that religion is so based on getting up early in the morning!