Friday, November 09, 2007

Sleep as a Spiritual Discipline

The pastors at my church quote John Ortberg a lot. This kind of bugs me. Is John Ortberg one of the greatest Christian thinkers of our time? Really? If the pastor is going to quote someone, I want it to be Walter Brueggeman or Wolfhart Pannenberg or someone like that. If I'm in a good mood I might even put up with Walt Wangerin. But John Ortberg?

Then recently it dawned on me just how much of a snob I am. I mean, I'd never even read one of John Ortberg's books. What right did I have to look down my nose at him? So I went on to Book Mooch and mooched one of his books so I could look down my nose at him with a clear conscience. :-)

I went with The Life You've Always Wanted because I like books about the spiritual disciplines. It had a blurb from Richard Foster saying it was an OK book, so that was a good sign. I like Richard Foster. Browsing through the book, I found some references to Bonhoeffer and Kierkegaard. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad after all.

In the preface, Ortberg acknowledges his dependence on the work of Dallas Willard, who I also like, and says his private working title for the book was "Dallas for Dummies." From what I can tell so far, that's not a bad self-assessment. So I didn't expect to find anything radically new here, but thought maybe it would be like chatting with my pastor about spiritual disciplines over cookies. Maybe I'd pick up a tip or two.

Here's the first great tip I've come across: sleep is a spiritual discipline.

This is something I actually should have noticed before. Last year I took a retreat at Mount Angel Abbey (which happens to be one of my favorite places in the world). I had no plan for the retreat -- no program. I took my Bible and a couple of books. I planned to just read and attend prayer services. But as I sat down in my guest room to read, I found myself nodding off. So I decided to just go with that. I ended up spending about half my time sleeping during that retreat. It turned out to be one of the best retreats I've experienced!

But I didn't learn the lesson. I needed to read it in a book a year later. Maybe now I'll remember.

5 comments:

LutheranChik said...

Sleep as spiritual discipline...I like it.

Andy said...

When I was in college, my composition professor, who I also had for metaphysics, made me write an essay explaining why I had missed class so much. I referred to the Zen saying, "When hungry eat, when tired sleep," and said, "I was tired, so I slept." He wrote back, "Well, when sleeping you are truly at one with the universe, so I guess this is OK."

David said...

I must not be very (yawn....stretch...) disciplined

Freddie Sirmans said...

Just browsing the internet. You have a very, very interesting blog. Great site.

JilliMan said...

I did as Tom in Ontario (I'm sorry, but I don't know how to put that line under his name. If anyone wants to help me, I'd be most appreciative.) suggested and it happened that the closest book was my Junior English-Korean Dictionary. As I attempt to do this, I'm not even sure that the Korean writing will come through. But here it is:

He lives in the suburbs of Mexico City.

그는 멕시코시의 교외에서 살고 있다

He has a right to claim a share.

그는 자기 몫을 요구할 권리가 있다.

The boys clapped their hands.