One of the things that happens when you travel is that you end up sleeping in strange, that is to say unfamiliar, beds. They may have firmer or softer mattresses, different sheets and blankets, and perhaps more of an issue, different pillows. Pillows come in all levels of firmness, some are stuffed with feathers or down, some with synthetic filling, and ours are filled with buckwheat hulls. In some hotels they realize the importance of choice of pillow to the extent that they provide a variety of pillows and even label them as to firmness. No matter how nice the bed may be, when you get home to your own bed, and settle your head down onto your own pillow for the first time there is such a feeling of comfort.
Today one of the lectionary readings was the story of Jacob in Bethel. Jacob is on the run after cheating his brother out of his father’s blessing. He is out in the middle of nowhere and overcome with exhaustion he settles down on the ground with a rock for a pillow. He falls into a deep sleep and dreams of a ladder to heaven. I have slept on some pretty uncomfortable pillows in my travels, even down to a little pile of clothes under the end of the sleeping bag, nothing came close to a rock! What was he thinking? Did he not have any other options?
Hard and uncomfortable as that pillow was, Jacob slept well and God spoke to him through his dream. Do we need a rock pillow, hardship, or fear for our lives in order for us to hear God’s message? I don’t think so. Sometimes it is easier to remember to pray when things are going badly or we are in pain, but God is there for us regardless. When we are curled up in our own beds with our own familiar pillows under our heads we will still be able to hear the voice of God if we listen carefully.
Photo by Daehyun Park find on flickr