I wasn’t going to write about Z for zzzz, but then I caught myself nodding off in meeting for worship today and thought that perhaps I should.
It was midweek meeting, which we hold at lunch-time, never my brightest time of day, and I’m not very well at present, so there is may be some excuse for my taking a nap during meeting. But does it matter?
Some people I know won’t come to meeting any more. They say ‘I only fall asleep, I won’t come’. I’m sad they don’t come, they wouldn’t sleep all the time surely, and anyway, does it matter?
In a way, yes it does matter. We come to meeting to be aware of the Presence, to listen to the Divine, to align ourselves more closely with the will of God, or however we describe it. Generally, our experience suggests that it is easier to achieve this if we are relaxed but alert, comfortable but aware, still but awake. We want to be conscious of what is happening in the silence.
Someone who falls asleep may worry that they will disturb others. They don’t usually, although people will be aware that someone is sleeping (and I think that in most meetings of any size someone probably falls asleep most weeks). Of course, if someone snores that can be quite a distraction. Often a Friend sitting near a snorer will be able to give a gentle nudge and awaken them.
If someone is really tired, it maybe that sleep is what they most need. If they take heed of the advice to come to meeting even when they “are angry, depressed, tired or spiritually cold.” A&Q 10 then it maybe that sleep is a gift to them from the meeting and from God.
Today, when I caught myself dozing, I just held the sleepiness in the light, accepted that I would be forgiven, and attempted (not entirely successfully) to remain alert for the remainder of the meeting.