On Ash Wednesday, I went to bed at 9:03.
Back in February I decided that for Lent, I would give up the hours between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. and would just go to bed and stay there, no reading, no television, no web surfing. For weeks, I had been anticipating this fast from night time, the witching hour in which I watch too much television or write the final few emails of the day rather than retire to my room for sleep.
Several nights before, I had been “practicing” going to bed early, at least leaving the living room and physically moving in the direction of bed by 9 or 9:30. And I had been trying to get up earlier, making time for reading or writing or just breakfast before running off to work.
So on the day Lent began, I was pleasantly surprised when my puppy, Tilly, woke me up just before 5 a.m., and that Bible study ended that night by 8:35 p.m. I arrived home at 8:50 p.m., just enough time to say “hello” to my sister, let Tilly out one last time, and get into my pajamas.
By 9:03 p.m. on Ash Wednesday, I was in bed.
But I didn’t go right to sleep. How could I possibly go from racing through my day to head on the pillow snoring in 15 minutes? So I lay in bed, sheets pulled up to my chin, experiencing what I fear most about night time: lying alone in the dark, awake, with nothing but my thoughts.
I laid on my back, breathing prayers and telling Jesus I would trust him with bed time. Then, I curled on my left side and whispered in the dark, “More of Jesus, less of me.” Eventually, I curled over to my right side, pushing Tilly, who had crawled under the covers, to the other side of the bed.
After 45 minutes of tossing and turning, of praying and worrying, I slipped off to sleep and dreamed of my nephew Asher, and a family I didn’t know from Rock Castle, Kentucky.
About 2 a.m. I woke up, and instinctively checked email on my iPhone.
Old habits die hard.