Monday, August 11, 2008

On the Necessity of Naps: A Pastoral Letter from +Maya Pavlova

Beloved two-leggers and four-leggers all, and three-leggers and wheel-riders too,

Grace, peace, and purrs to you in the name of the One who feeds us and keeps us safe and provides us companions with whom to play.

I have been meaning to write this pastoral letter since my return from London and Lambeth, but have been much preoccupied with {{{yaaaawwwwn}}} the very subject of this letter. Canine and feline time, as my brother bishops +Clumber, +Airedale, and +Rowan have noted, is a time unfettered by the meetings and schedules of humans.

Yesterday afternoon, on the blessed Day of Resurrection, my Canon to the Extraordinary, having returned from church, had a light repast and headed for her bed, declaring that she ought to make up a deficit of sleep from the previous night. After jumping onto the bed and sniffing about, I decided to depart curl up on my own, on the other bed in the house, in another room. I am +Maya Pavlova and I sleep wherever I want.

We slept for well over two hours, so the two-legger said. Myself, I do not count.

When we got up, she was of a peaceful spirit and I of a sprightly one.

This led me finally to compose this episcopal admonition to you, my beloved.

I have noticed that the Canon to the Extraordinary is occasionally cranky. "Occasionally" is a kind, moderate, and appropriately Anglican word. So is "cranky."

There seem to be two ways of applying a remedy to this most unpleasant state of hers: dipping her in hot water (what she refers to as "a bath" or "a nice soak in the tub") or seeking the blessed peace of sleep.
Only one of these remedies, the second of the two, functions in all seasons (hot water is no remedy in the muggy summers of our fair state), is appropriate for all species (we felines never engage in such wet pursuits as "baths") and requires minimal shifting or changing of the clothing which fur-less two-legs must wear. The short version of this happy remedy is the nap.

Where, you may ask, is this nap mandated in Holy Scripture? And if we are Anglicans, what of the other sources of our common life? Are we not departing from tradition? What of reason? Notice, my friends, the three legged stool: and what better place for a small cat like me to curl up in a ball and slumber?

But I have digressed, or perhaps not. That is my privilege as a cat.

Holy Writ, my friends, does mention Jesus going to a place apart in the midst of his ministry. Certainly he prayed. But think you not that he had another thought as he drew apart to commune with the Creator?
Get me away from these people!

You will argue that there appears to be in Holy Scripture no explicit reference to naps. There is, friends, there is. I speak not only of the blessed sleep of Jacob and his visions, and of the exhausted slumber of the weakened friends of Jesus in the garden --surely a sign of nap deprivation over the long term-- but of even more certain and detailed nap references in a recently discovered non-canonical writing, the Feline Apocryphon of Maya Magdalena.

Maya Magdalena, an ancestor of mine, is said by this scriptural fragment to have been a four-legged companion of one of the friends of Jesus. Certain references even indicate that she was for a time a faithful companion of Jesus himself. The surviving fragment of the Feline Apocryphon of Maya Magdalena states that on several occasions, this four-legged feline wrapped herself around the ankles of Jesus and twice slept on his lap. Yes, Jesus had a lap. Was he not fully human and fully divine? Do humans not have laps?

Did Jesus not embrace small children and praise the insight of such little ones? Surely he saw also the beauty of dogs and cats. Anthropocentric editors of the Gospels and Epistles have suppressed the tales of animal companions. They have paid some attention to other animals: the wild beasts who with the angels fed Jesus in the desert, the ancient sacrifice of animals (+Maya does not want to hear of this), the beasts and birds and dragon in the Apocalypse of John. But what of the real and daily creatures, four-legged, winged, and slithering animal companions? Were they only the dogs in the story of the Syrophoenician woman, eating the crumbs under the table?

The Feline Apocryphon of Maya Magdalena shows us that creatures of all kinds, especially felines, were bearers of the Gospel. Indeed, it is in a scene depicting Jesus with the sleeping Maya Magdalena that we hear him say, softly and admiringly, "Be ye like this feline of peace, and nap often, for of such behavior is the kin-dom of Godde made."

Increase the number of naps in your life, beloved. Your level of doctrinal irritation will decrease immediately. You will neither sue nor be sued. All creatures will appear more beautiful to you when you wake, though before you gaze at them you will feel the need to stretch and sigh, and so you must do, extending your limbs and breathing and perhaps grooming yourself before rising to greet the world again.

If you have not known the bliss of the nap, seek out a napper who may witness to you calmly and joyfully.

Are naps with other creatures permitted? I have napped with my human companion, when I so please. The decision is mine. The two-legger Caminante, a friend of creatures of many nations and a Canon in fair green lands, has shown us, in her electronic epistles, her feline companions
curled up against one another. Love and nap with each other in freedom, dear ones, as the Spirit and your own free will move you.

+Maya has spoken.

Yours in the grace of recurring snoozes, with pastoral love for all, without exception,

The Right Rev. and Right Hon. Maya Pavlova, F.B.E.

Now, if you will excuse me, I am going to curl up in the sun by the window of the study. Meet and right it is that the Canon to the Extraordinary set up a cat-sized perch parallel to the window and the desk so that I might enjoy my leisure. I wish for you the very same. And if no one makes you such a perch, make it yourself. I also recommend the top of a pile of clean, soft laundry. - +MP, FBE.

P.S. To behold me in detail, click on photos to enlarge.


pj said...

Holy Writ! +Maya writes with a voice of gentle, loving authority.

But I would ask: what of the juvenile two-legger who, even with sniffles and fever, simply refuses to nap, thereby denying his exhausted two-legged parent (who read several chapters of Harry Potter aloud at 2 in the morning to said juvenile) the privelege of collapsing atop the clean, soft laundry?

I'm sayin'.

Anonymous said...

PJ, as a biblical scholar (and mother of a toddler), I can attest that the commandment to "Honor thy father and mother that thy days may be long upon the earth that the LORD your G-d is giving you" refers especially to napping and the repose of parents. The Hebrew word for honor (cbd in the piel) has connotations of bringing into a state of heaviness, or, as Koehler-Baumgartner's lexicon has it, making insensitive. The commandment therefore implies: "Give your parents a break, you'll live longer." Further confirmation of +Maya's excellent command of the scriptures.

FranIAm said...

Maya is wise and compassionate. I just woke up from my nap... you see, whatever my bishop prescribes, I follow!

pj said...

I'll go tell him to start honoring me right now, Anonymous. ;)

johnieb said...

Clearly worthy of being included in the cherished writings of the Ancestors in the Faith.

Now for a light snack and spiritual practice: yaawwwwnnn.

+clumber said...

Brilliant theology, +Maya!

lj said...

+Maya not only reasons well, she also writes exceptionally well.

Psalm 4:4 speaks very directly to this need to stave off crankiness with sleep: "When you are disturbed, do not sin; ponder it on your beds, and be silent."

Ken said...

Most Eminent +Maya, there is one problem. Since I resumed being able to sleep again, another pattern has returned. Namely, nobody wants to be around me after I've had a nap. People nearby call me Nicolae Ceauscescu. It is, as you might gather, not a compliment. I awaken not simply cranky but intensely irritable. In fact, at times like those where wisdom has been bested by exhaustion and I've napped, you may be happy to know my best recourse is to pet a cat. It restoreth my soul and forever sweet disposition (boy, if you buy that, you are easy to con).

Grandmère Mimi said...

Johnieb, you stole my words. What are you? Some kind of clairvoyant? The letter most certainly belongs in the canon of the holy book.

Your grace, +Maya, what is your solution for members of the faithful who are not able to nap? If I don't get my sleep at night, that's it, because I cannot fall asleep during the day. How I'd love a nap from time to time, but it ain't gonna happen. Help!

And what about Balaam's ass and the privileged donkey who bore Jesus into Jerusalem to shouts of, "Hosanna in the highest!"?

Wormwood's Doxy said...

I vote we make napping the 9th sacrament (after Coffee Hour).

For those who are unable to nap (or who are "cranky" when they do), I have a question: Can you take 30 minutes in the middle of the afternoon to rest, pray, or daydream? I suspect any of those would suffice...


SCG said...

+Maya is clearly a wise soul. I will go nap now.

Paul said...

Preach it, Sister Furry Woman!

Algernon said...

I had to take away my cat's blogging privileges after some scurrilous MySpace posts. He's not much of a napper, either, come to think of it.

PeaceBang said...

+Maya, you beautiful dreamer, may we heed your wisdom.

Lindy said...

Dear +Maya, you are a wonderful bishop and very insightful. Bishop Rowan and I will read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest this fine pastoral letter... right after our naps.