Somnambulism

“Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.”
— I Thess. 5:6

I missed church this morning because my cell phone, which I use as an alarm clock, didn’t wake me up.

It’s possible that the phone simply malfunctioned (it’s happened before, and I’m going to buy a real alarm clock this afternoon, just in case), but when I finally woke up, I was in the middle of a confusing and unsettling dream, so I think maybe the alarm went off, but the lines between sleep and consciousness were so blurred that I simply shut it off without ever realizing I’d heard it.

Interestingly, this frustrating experience with the alarm really illustrates the Lesson-Sermon I missed, which deals with the subtle ways in which error operates. This quote and the one above are from today’s Lesson:

“Evil thoughts and aims reach no farther and do no more harm than one’s belief permits.”
— Mary Baker Eddy

We used to live in an apartment building less than 100 yards from a railroad track. Our bedroom was on the side of the building closest to the track, and the whistles and clacking of the wheels were so loud that I would often hear them in my sleep, think that the train was coming through the wall, and take off running down the hall in terror.

I wasn’t exactly sleepwalking — the whistle was loud enough to wake the dead — but in that hazy point of consciousness between sleep and wakefulness, I couldn’t understand what was happening, so instincts took over, and I reacted based on the only information I had, some of which was true (a train was nearby), and some of which was false (the train was coming through the wall). I couldn’t distinguish between the real and the imagined until I’d regained complete consciousness of my surroundings.

That’s just the way error likes to operate: It catches me on that line between sleep and consciousness and incorporates just enough reality into its claims to trick me into thinking it’s true. If I’m awake to Truth, error can’t make me do anything. But if I’m half-asleep, it’s easy to get confused and let it trick me into doing things that don’t make any sense — like shutting off the alarm while I try to unravel a confusing situation that exists only in my imagination, or running down the hall to escape from a train that’s just rolling along the tracks where it belongs.

Emily

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