May 27, 2008


Long weekends sometimes vaguely remind me of... college days. Those bygone years contained two seemingly disparate things – a great sense of leisure with all the sensation of getting things done. Quantifiable things too, such as a college degree. I was like Huck Finn floating down the river – all the movement but also all the restfulness. It was like being both Pelagian and Augustinian.

Of course that is nostalgia talking. It wasn't that easy. (Was it?)

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There’s a sort of comely humility in many of the pagan back-to-nature folks because even if they don’t believe in God, their belief in evolution means they believe they were formed in a certain way (over time) and it’s best to conform to that. Some people refuse to conform to anyone or anything; they think they can be whoever they want to be (Michael Jackson comes to mind).

The nature folks say we have evolved over the millenia to either farm or hunt and gather and it’s best we get back to that. Or that we evolved to run long distances and that we should thus do that today. In one sense the Christian is not so different from the nature-worshipper in that both have discovered a blueprint. The nature-lover sees nature as guide and teacher and that we are happiest when in communion with it. The Christian sees Christ as guide and teacher and that we are happiest when in communion with Him.

Since grace builds on nature, the Catholic accepts that nature is also guide and teacher (small 'g' and 't') since we don't throw out reason with faith. (Think: "Two great tastes in one candy bar".) Reason strongly suggests that evolution in some fashion is true, though obviously involving a Creator. But I don't think I'll quit my day job and hunt & gather anytime soon although I hear the hours are decent.

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Sleep, like sex and prayer, abhors self-consciousness. Self-awareness, in each case, destroys what is meant to be a entrustment to something other than self. But sometimes sleep is short-circuited for reasons far from self-consciousness. Sometimes just by pure anxiety, as in my co-worker.

He's freak of nature as it is, sleeping 3-4 hours a night. This has advantages he tells me and I believe him. He wakes up before 5am and arrives at work at 6am, allowing him to leave, if he takes no lunch, at the delightfully hour of 2pm. He has so much more free time than the average person that it beggars the imagination. His energy level is somewhat uneven: either full bore with great intensity or, as was the case in a training class, a lot of sleeping.

But all of that was put aside when I learned that his insomnia had increased dramatically and he was at rest two hours a night for the past couple weeks. Great domestic difficulties; a sudden change in his wife’s nephew’s family has presented the opportunity of taking on a 8-year old. Fights have ensued, his wife insisting they take in the child. If you can spare a prayer for him and his wife and the proper outcome I'm sure he'd appreciate it.

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