I was responsible for evening prayer service tonight at the Jesuit Retreat House in OshKosh, where I am part of the team directing an eight-day retreat. I included as part of the prayer an excerpt from Charles Peguy’s The Portal of the Mystery of Hope.
Several people came up to me after the prayer service to ask for a copy of what I read. That prompted me to share it here with you.
They tell me
There are men who don’t sleep.
I don’t like the man who doesn’t sleep, says God.
Sleep is the friend of man.
Sleep is the friend of God.
Sleep may be my most beautiful creation.
And I too rested on the seventh day.
He who’s heart is pure, sleeps. And he who sleeps has a pure heart.
This is the great secret to being as infatigable as a child.
To have that strength in your legs that a child has.
Those new legs, those new souls
And to start over every morning, always new,
Like the young, like the new
Hope. Yes, they tell me there are men
Who work well and who sleep poorly.
Who don’t sleep. What a lack of confidence in me.
It’s almost worse than if they worked poorly but slept well.
Than if they worked but didn’t sleep, because sloth
Is no worse sin than anxiety
In fact, it’s even a less serious sin than anxiety
And than despair and than a lack of confidence in me.
I’m not talking, says God, about those men
Who don’t work and don’t sleep.
Those men are sinners, it goes without saying…
I’m talking about those who work and who don’t sleep.
I pity them. I hold it against them. A bit. They don’t trust me.
As a child lays innocently in his mother’s arms, thus they do not lay.
Innocently in the arms of my Providence.
They have the courage to work. They don’t have the courage to do nothing.
They possess the virtue of work. They don’t possess the virtue of doing nothing.
Of relaxing. Of resting. Of sleeping.
To use the words with which I ended the service: Rest well this night, in the arms of your loving God.