Imagine that you are standing in a church. You are standing in the front and facing the back, and maybe the first thing that you notice is the way the light comes in through the stained glass windows… Or perhaps it is the high, vaulted ceiling, and the way the lines conspire to bring your view upward.
The pews are mostly filled. This is no ordinary church service, though. People are wearing suits, ties, and dresses. The organ fills the air, and a few people lean over to whisper briefly to their neighbors. The air is charged. Intense emotion fills the place. The ceremony is about to begin.
And this leads to the important question. Just which ceremony is it? The obvious choices are either a funeral or a wedding. You could, of course, turn around and face the front of the church. This is where everything changes: Either it is one somber coffin. Or it is two people, who perhaps look and feel more alive than they have ever been.
At theological-philosophical-symbolic level, there continues to be this interesting list: it seems like marriages and funerals are identical in all the ways that they are not exact opposites. Both involve an end of one part of our existence. Both, I think, usher in a whole new way of existing.
If this set of thoughts was a road, there would be a sign right here. It would say, “beware, sharp turn ahead.” Are you ready for a sharp turn? Bare with me, here.
I was struggling with insomnia night. I woke suddenly. The weight of my worries and fears perched on my chest. It was lonely and irritating.
As I lay there, staring at the ceiling, I realized something:
Insomnia is a lot like meditating.
Except for the parts where it is exactly the opposite.
In both cases, I sit in silence. In both cases, I am confronted with the things that I spend most of my life pushing down and away. In both cases, it might look like rest. But at the same time, it is hard work.
The relationship between marriages and funerals is much like the relationship between meditation and insomnia. I haven’t said much about the most obvious difference between the positive and the negative within each pair, and that, perhaps, is my whole point.
Marriage and meditation are time that we choose to do something for our betterment. Death and insomnia are things which happen to us. As a result, we have all kinds of happy, warm, and fuzzy feelings about the former, while we have all sorts of sad, cold, and prickly feelings about the later.
Which leads me to consider the wisdom of the body. Sometimes the parts of me I can name are not as wise as the parts of me which go unnoticed. Perhaps a way to view insomnia is to see this as my body/unconscious/God within telling me that I need to spend some time letting go. What if I viewed these bouts with insomnia as an opportunity to meditate on these things?