Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

I pray the Lord my soul to keep.

I’m frequently surprised by what stays with me over the years. In this case, it’s a simple nightly ritual – the idea of expressing gratitude each night before sleeping.

We weren’t a particularly religious family though my parents both believed in God. We never went to church together as a family (my sister and I often went with friends) and when I was asked to say grace before meals (it fell on the shoulders on the youngest) I routinely just said, “Grace” and waited for everyone to laugh. Then we ate.

Most nights before bed, I said my prayers with one of my parents. It was the standard-issue kiddie prayer that started, “Now I lay me down to sleep…” I recall being mildly uncomfortable about the “If I should die before I wake” part, but I didn’t spend too much time worrying about it because I was always excited to get to the end.

At the end, I endlessly cataloged everything I loved under the “God Bless” clause in this arrangement. To my mind, this was my opportunity to safeguard what I loved against possible harm:

God Bless Mommy and Daddy and Heather and Shady Lady [my dog] and Mama Kitty [her given name] and Herschel [another cat, named after a football player - my mom was a Cowboys fan] and chocolate and ice cream and Sharon [or insert name of current BFF] and legos and my science kit and our house and our yard and allllll the ducks and my tree house and the Kishmars and the Kishmars’ parakeets and Jenny and Julana and all of Jenny’s barbies…”

On and on and on.

These days my list is a little less exhaustive and, because I’m no longer religious, I don’t direct it toward anyone in particular. Most nights, I write the list in a big journal I keep in my nightstand. I use a Sharpee pen and keep things short and sweet. What I’m thankful for varies from day to day, but things like family, a place to live, food to eat, health, safety, clean water, warmth, security and a rad romantic life partner-in-crime are always in the mix. Sometimes I also add bourbon, pork belly, coffee or cyclocross. You get the gist. When I’m really tired, I skip the book and just write my list mentally as I fall asleep. There’s something about dozing off in a haze of gratitude that always sets me up for a decent morning.

The point is simple: pause, think, express gratitude, recognize what you have, acknowledge what is good. Even on the worst days, my lists are long.

Is this some hippy new-age feel-good shit? Maybe. Do I care? Not at all.

It helps me live a better life.
I’m rolling with it.

And, while we’re on the topic. Thanks for being here. Thanks for reading. Thanks for commenting. Thanks for participating. Thanks for sharing.

You being here makes this worthwhile.



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12 Responses to “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep”

  1. Wendi says:

    Love you, little.

  2. CC says:

    My mom changed the part about dying before you wake. I don’t remember how she changed it, but it bugged her, too.

    Thank you for reminding me for all I’m thankful for. Your writing is on that list.

  3. billi1905 says:

    Gratitude is such a powerful thing.

  4. doug says:

    what you do is simply good, it needs no explanation. You live well and you are thankful, tis good.

  5. Chris says:

    I was happy to read this first thing in the morning, feeling all cranky. Now I’m not.

  6. Julie says:

    Great post. NPR talked about the power of gratitude last month:

    Here’s the version we say with our daughter:

    Now I lay me down to sleep
    I pray the Lord my soul to keep
    Sweet dreams through the night
    And wake me with the morning light

  7. Pete says:

    Damn Snarkypants you brought a tear to my eye. It has happened before and I trust it will again. You da best.

  8. Karen kenlan says:

    And thank you
    For writing.

  9. chr15 says:

    Yes. thank you for writing and thank you for inspiring. This is a great way to finish the day with a full heart.

  10. Gratitude and thankfulness are very positive emotions. Many times people dwell on the negative, on the things they do not have. By being thankful for what you have, you dwell on the positive.

  11. Ben S says:

    Great post and yes, please keep writing!

  12. obadiah says: