Sometimes one of my happiest times of the day is looking at these little angelic sleeping faces.
Is that bad?
But some evenings, getting to this lovely quiet space seems like a lot of work. Like when there is a thunderstorm outside. Or when one of the girls is bugging the other (they share a room). Or when a friend said something mean and there are questions of how to deal with it tomorrow. Or when one person is singing really loudly. Or when there's a deep theological question or concern. Or when someone just wants to know that her parents are really, really close until sleep finally overcomes.
A friend taught us this bedtime ritual that I love. We read stories, do "glad, sad, sorry" and then we say this blessing.
What's glad, sad, sorry?
It's a simple version of the Ignatius practice of examen - a prayerful reflection on the day's events - to see glimpses of God and discern future direction. In this simplified version, you answer these three little questions:
When I think back on what happened today,
1. What made me glad?
2. What made me sad?
3. What made me feel sorry?
One daughter loves to do this every night. The other one just listens, and occasionally pipes in with a "glad" story. I'm always asked to share my glads, sads, and sorries too.
I've noticed that it changes something about our days. The littlest one (the one who loves to talk and share her feelings) can usually remember the different emotions of her day. Some days she has referred back to something that made her sad or sorry from the day before, and this has changed her attitude in the present moment. She might be thinking: if I don't change my behaviour/attitude now, then this might be something I will feel the need to share at glad/sad/sorry time tonight.
And it's helped me too.
I try to encourage and expand those parts of my day that make me glad and that give me life. Granted, not all that is sad can be pushed out of our lives - nor should it. But the things that often make me feel sorry are ways that I treat others (particularly family members) that are not-so-life-giving. So these are the pieces I want to change the next day.
My mother-in-law gave me this book that I love - Sleeping with Bread: Holding What Gives You Life.
They compare this sleeping with bread to praying the examen prayer at the end of the day, and holding on to what gives you life during the course of the next day.
Do you have ways that you "hold onto your daily bread"? Bedtime routines that get you ready for sleep, while reflecting on the day and anticipating the next? A cup of tea or wine? Journalling? Talking with someone? Do tell!