The Importance of Taking a Nap

Once upon a time, when I was young and foolish, I despised the very idea of taking a nap. How could one waste precious moments of daytime asleep, when one could be reading or walking or busy about some activity that the daylight hours favoured? Now I am older, and wiser at least in this. The siesta, the midday nap, is a great blessing. The drowsiness of a summer’s day can be given into without a single, Anglo-Saxon guilty pang. The chill of a wintery afternoon and its greyness can be forgotten as one loses oneself in a few minutes’ quiet slumber. For those of us whose energy levels have been sorely affected by age or illness, it is a great restorative. St Benedict assumes that his disciples will have a noonday rest (though he wisely allows us to read quietly during that period). What more can I say? Only this. One of my favourite quotations, trotted out whenever I have caught myself falling asleep over my prayer or some other religious duty: Ego dormio, sed cor meum vigilat. ‘I am sleeping, but my heart keeps vigil.’ Only sleep puts up no barriers to God. Perhaps we should all take a nap more often.

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