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Sleeping on the job

by davesandel on July 14th, 2022

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Memorial of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, Virgin

            (click here to listen to or read today’s scriptures)

Sleeping on the job

My dad took a nap at about 1 pm every day, for twenty minutes, wherever he was. In the spring and fall he was in the field, where Mom brought him lunch. After eating lunch he laid down under the tractor in what shade there was, and took a nap.

I get sleepy at 1 pm too. The power of suggestion strongly suggests that I take a nap, for about twenty minutes. So usually I do. If I wait and rest later in the afternoon, it’s never the same. My nap is longer and more restless. The twenty-minute power nap, pioneered by my dad as far as I know, has become famous far and wide. What time is it right now? Is it about 1 pm? Maybe you should take a nap!

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”

The Native American Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, whose feast day is today, once walked 200 miles through what is now called Canada to find an inviting spiritual climate. That sounds like about three weeks of walking. I am sure she took power naps about 1 pm in the afternoon.

Kateri was born in 1656 and died too soon, in 1680, just 24. She took her Christian name Kateri from Saint Catherine of Siena, who also died young (1347-1380). Both Catherines were diligent in their prayers, and very hard workers. Ora et labora. Kateri prayed in the forest for an hour each day. Sometimes she was accused of meeting a man out there, but she did not. She met only Jesus. She married only Jesus. She loved him, and he loved her. She must have known the humility of Jesus deep inside her soul, enabling her own humility to grow and grow.

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart, and you will find rest for yourselves.

When I was in the Moonies, an early-rising guitarist went from room to room singing as loud as he or she could. “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine!” We had gone to bed and collapsed into our sleeping bags seven hours earlier. Now it was time to sit up, stand up, and do a couple of jumping jacks. This was called “Jumping It!”

That’s kind of how Dad woke up from his nap. Except there was no guitar, no alarm clock except the one that ticked inside his skin. And then his work day continued, long and strong, as much as he had time for.

Native Americans worked on Sunday, but Kateri would not. She did everything else, though. After she was baptized she was treated as a slave, and worked even harder. When she refused to work on Sunday, her family gave her no food to eat. Sundays were always fast days for Kateri.

I don’t imagine Kateri was any more a mystic than my dad was. But for both of them, their work and their salvation seemed to go hand in hand. I know Jesus’ words lifted my dad’s body and soul over and over. His eyes were deep, his smile sincere and quiet, and the muscles rippled up and down his arms, brown from the short-sleeve cuff on down, and lily white above.

Jesus said, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

 (Isaiah 26, Psalm 102, Matthew 11)

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