A Hail Mary Pass

Since I started complaining about my lack of sleep, the suggestions have come pouring in. First, I’m amazed at how many of my friends meditate. It’s not something we’ve ever talked about, but now that we’re all learning to live in the moment, it’s a discussion waiting to happen. Meanwhile, I’ll share another friend’s suggestion.

I grew up Catholic. When I was twenty-five, I changed denominations, but you know what they say. You can take the girl out of the church, but…. Yeah, that’s right. Anyway, my friend Maureen read my last blog and had an interesting idea for me. She suggested that I say a part of the Rosary every night before bed. Unbeknownst to her, I had purchased one while at Salisbury Cathedral last fall. I’d been browsing in the gift shop after being softened up by an enthusiastic tour guide who led us up to the highest possible tower where we all peered down and thanked God for sturdy carpentry and conscientious Brits who restore their buildings faithfully.

As I stared at the Rosary, (it was pink, like the one from my childhood) I was seized by a nostalgia so strong that I almost burst into tears. I had left the church, but I still carried that child inside of me. We all do, right?
The Hanson clan was not casual about attending Mass. If we were out of town, we found a church. I remember my dad driving all over these small Saskatchewan hamlets on a Sunday morning, my mom having pulled some decent clothes out of the dress box that accompanied us on our trips. We never missed Mass, and a bedridden teenager in our house had better have a fever and not a hangover, because there were no excuses.

This has stood me in good stead for many reasons, which is probably why you should go to church each week, if you’re into that kind of thing, which I am. But, I digress. I took my Rosary down from the mirror where it’s been hanging since last fall, and stuck it under my pillow. That first night I pulled it out and closed my eyes. I started off with the beads under the cross and said my usual prayers for my family, community, etc. I continued on with the Lord’s prayer and then started saying the ‘Hail, Mary,’ which I remembered, word for word. (If its been updated or modernized, please don’t tell me.)

Anyway, I barely got through three prayers before I fell asleep. I’m not sure why that is, frankly. Is saying the rosary a form of meditation? Was it the connection to my childhood? I don’t think so, because I was a bad sleeper in those days. Perhaps it was because my faith has deep roots, and has always anchored me to the best part of myself. Which isn’t really me, but that part of the Creator that flickers inside all of us, whether we know it or not. 

The desperate long shot Hail Mary play has paid off. It has carried me into the land of sleep for many nights, now, and I am grateful for it. I’m indebted to every person who has shared their sleep secrets with me, and even their despair over their lack of sleep. In these hectic times of social media and late night television binging, we’re messing up Mother Nature’s sleep recipe. But as a community, we can help each other by showing the way back. The word hail means to rejoice. So, hail, all you restless nighttime sleepers. I’m so glad we’re in this thing together. And can I have an Amen?

Published by Judith Pettersen

Judith Pettersen is an author living in Canada. She blogs about her life in the north and the ups and downs of being a writer.

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