For several days, out of character, I have hit my alarm clock with an insistent “no” and let myself glide back into dreams of trying to escape from exposure or old bosses. This morning I awoke to find my top sheet on the floor as I curled myself embryonically into the covers. The pinpricks on my back told me that getting up would hurt. Later I let the shower water, its beads barely warm, brush my head, wanting anything to calm and cleanse the dry scalp and greasing hair of winter. Wake up.
In the chilling air, I do not feel free to dance or take casual walks around the block. Everything is cold, and my hands chap so dry, I do not want anyone to hold or shake them. All I want is to curl under my blanket. When I sleep in the fetal position, though, I wake up with excruciating back pain. I realized a couple years ago that sleeping like a starfish helped me wake up with less pain and more energy to face the day.
On days like today, when I wake up kicking myself on the inside because my spine hurts from sleeping in a ball, I wonder what it will take for me to adopt a posture of joy. On Sunday I heard Pastor Doug Logan–an old acquaintance who happened to be in town–preach about how Simeon, a wizened, devout man in ancient Israel, maintained a posture of joy throughout his life. He eagerly anticipated the coming of the Messiah during his lifetime–though Israel had been without prophet for four hundred years–and, led by the Holy Spirit, went to the temple at the moment when an infant Messiah was waiting for him.
Four hundred years is a long winter. I wonder, darkened to God’s revelation, if the Israelites curled up a little bit–if they cried out in agony for the pains on their backs. I wonder if they got caught up in self-conscious dreams and didn’t want any of the other nations to see their face. I wonder what Simeon did every day to stay close to God, who evidently had in some way promised him that he would meet the Messiah, in the midst of a society that had given up in the cold.
Simeon, teach me your ways.