Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Indian Sabbath

Sleeping in India has caught my attention over these months.

1)This morning around 5:30 my wife and I were walking a few streets of Chennai (Madras). We passed a number of men sleeping on the sidewalks, a few sleeping on the platform of their "truck-rickshaws," otherwise used during the day for carrying goods.
2) Later this morning my wife and I both had to catch naps, having been up since 2:3o.
3) Due to the heat napping came highly recommended when we prepared to come to India, that it could be a regular feature of the Indian day, before afternoon tea.
4) The professional conference yesterday was too much for at least one participant, nodding off.
5) Some prizes could be awarded for sleeping, as in the train station reservation queue or on the bus bouncing across rural roads.
6) Sleeping fits, of course, in student hostels and train berths.
7) The picture is a favorite, a man sound asleep on the breakwater in the Vishakhapatnam harbor.

One could argue that Indians are able to sleep anytime, anywhere. While some of that sleeping may represent the problems of India---e.g., homelessness---some of it may represent a gift. Some of the sleeping is a contrast to this Westerner's expectations. Some of the sleeping, as on the breakwater, is intriguing. One wonders whether there is wisdom in the sleeping, as also in the related skill of simply sitting around talking. By contrast with a Western activist commitment---if it isn't a long work day, it's getting the kids to soccer practice; if we're sitting around it has to be at the computer with a game, violent or otherwise---one wonders if the Indian freedom to sleep or relax has some wisdom attached. One old German said something similar, that nature itself teaches us to rest (Martin Luther, Large Catechism, Third Commandment). He noted often that the real rest comes as a real peace in Jesus, ---but might he agree that India can teach us some of the natural wisdom, to get some sleep?


  • Hello Dr. Rich and Miriam, Had a little time and was browsing and found your blog. Very Cool!! I hope you are enjoying your adventure. If you meet any deaf people say Jesus Loves You (see Anne and I are in Washington DC. I am at Wesley Theological Seminary finishing my degree towards Lutheran COngregations in Mission for Christ ( We have a team job taking care of an apartment complex so we have a nice place to live. I will read your updates with great interest. God Bless and Peace,
    Mark Ehrlichmann

    By Blogger Mark Ehrlichmann, at Wed Feb 01, 02:04:00 PM PST  

  • I've very much enjoyed your observations and reflections... and miss having you around here!

    I'm also writing because I have it on my calendar that your birthday is soon... Let this also be a HAPPY BIRTHDAY note!

    I hope that you have a chance to celebrate and that your birthday can be a day full of blessings. You are certainally a blessing to us and to many - throughout the world!

    Jim Bargmann

    By Blogger dcejimb, at Tue Feb 28, 07:38:00 AM PST  

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