“CAN YOU SLEEP THROUGH THE STATIC?” (Mk 4:26-34): 01 February 2008 (Friday)

“CAN YOU SLEEP THROUGH THE STATIC?” (Mk 4:26-34):  01 February 2008 (Friday)

Today’s Readings

Hawaii-based Jack Johnson will soon release an album with a great title:  “Sleep through the Static.”  The song of the same title speaks–with a somewhat ironic tone–against war, and I think the title captures what I feel about today’s readings. 

In the First Reading, King David is smitten with a woman named Bathsheba.  It turns out that Bathsheba is married to Uriah the Hittite, so David devises a plan to dispose of Uriah: He sends him off to war and instructs his officers to put the Hittite on the frontline.  Sure enough, Uriah is killed, leaving Bathsheba widowed and now available for the king.

I wonder how David must have slept that night.  My question to him is:  “Can you sleep through the static?” He must have been hounded by his conscience–or was he? 

In his book Defining Moments, Joseph Badaracco, Jr. talks about the Sleep-Test Ethics.  According to this ethics, a person who lives morally can sleep soundly, while someone who lives immorally will not.  But the problem, he continues, is that if our character isn’t shaped well and we don’t have the right values, we will end up with a very subjective morality and a very insensitive conscience.  As a result, the wicked can be some of the soundest sleepers around.  They don’t really end up suffering from moral apnea.

We can guess that David probably slept quite soundly that evening, having suppressed his conscience–to be awakened only much later when the prophet Nathan paid him a visit and stunned him with his harsh prophetic words.

Providing a shark contrast to David is the character in our Lord’s parable:  The man scatters seeds in the field and blissfully goes to sleep while the seeds quietly grow day and night until suddenly, before he knows it, it’s time for harvest.  Like David, he probably has no problem sleeping too, but unlike the king, the reason for his deep slumber is not an insensitive or calloused conscience, but a profound trust in the Lord–that is, that it is the Lord, not he, who will make the difference in the world.  All he has to do is to try his best, and–as the clichè goes–God will do the rest.

“To sleep through the static” doesn’t just mean being able to sleep well because like David, we’ve somehow managed to drown out the voice of our conscience.  A troubled conscience is good static, so if we don’t get that kind of static when we do wrong, we really ought to worry.  But there’s also bad static–the so-called noise from this world and all the unnecessary anxieties and fears that it creates even after we’ve exerted our best effort.  To sleep through the static also means being able to trust that despite all the troubles of this world, God will make sure that things will work out well.

In a famous vision, the 14th-century English mystic, Julian of Norwich, saw the Crucified Christ laughing triumphantly and uttering what another mystic, Anthony de Mello, considers the most beautiful lines ever heard or written:  “All shall be well!  All shall be well!  All manner of things shall be well!” 

If we believe this, if we have this confidence and faith in the Lord, we will have no trouble sleeping despite the bad static. 


Note:  Here are the lyrics of the soon-to-be-released single.  For a preview, listen to the song I’ve uploaded for you.

(Jack Johnson)

Trouble travels fast 
When you’re specially designed for crash testing 
Or wearing wool sunglasses in the afternoon 
Come on and tell us what you’re trying to prove 

Because it’s a battle when you dabble in war 
You store it up, unleash it, then you piece it together 
Whether the storm drain running rampant just stamp it 
And send it to somebody who’s pretending to care 

Just cash in your blanks for little toy tanks 
Learn how to use them, then abuse them and choose them 
Over conversations relationships are overrated 
“I hated everyone” said the sun 

And so I will cook all your books 
You’re too good looking and mistooken 
You could watch it instead 
From the comfort of your burning beds 
…Or you can sleep through the static 

Who needs sleep when we’ve got love? 
Who needs keys when we’ve got clubs? 
Who needs please when we’ve got guns? 
Who needs peace when we’ve gone above 
But beyond where we should have gone? 
We went beyond where we should have gone 

Stuck between channels my thoughts all quit 
I thought about them too much, allowed them to touch 
The feelings that rained down on the plains all dried and cracked 
Waiting for things that never came 

Shock and awful thing to make somebody think 
That they have to choose pushing for peace supporting the troops 
And either you’re weak or you’ll use brut force-feed the truth 
The truth is we say not as we do 

We say anytime, anywhere, just show your teeth and strike the fear 
Of god wears camouflage, cries at night and drives a dodge 
Pick up the beat and stop hogging the feast 
That’s no way to treat an enemy 

Well mighty mighty appetite 
we just eat ‘em up and keep on driving 
Freedom can be freezing take a picture from the pretty side 
Mind your manners wave your banners 
What a wonderful world that this angle can see 

But who needs to see what we’ve done? 
Who needs please when we’ve got guns? 
Who needs keys when we’ve got clubs? 
Who needs peace when we’ve gone above 
But beyond where we should have gone? 
Beyond where we should have gone 
We went beyond where we should have gone 
Beyond where we should have gone

Here’s a Quick Question for you: “What’s the static that you find the hardest to sleep through?  What has helped?”  Think about it, and share a thought, a feeling, or a question.

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