Last night I had a relatively empty house: my wife is in Chicago, my daughters were with my mother at her nearby hotel (Mom/Nanny came down to visit for the weekend), and our au pair was in Virginia Beach. So it was just me and Naaman, my 11 month old son.
And it was great.
I was worried that with the hour change Naaman would wake up at around 4 or 4:30am, but he slept through until about 6. And not once did he wake in the middle of the night. And so I slept through the night, seven hours, restfully and peacefully, and showered before he even woke up. It was as close to parental heaven as I've eperienced in a long time.
So why was Naaman so cooperative? Why didn't he offer up his usual scream or whimper in the middle of the night, or his regular 5am wake-up call? Of course, he may have screamed or whimpered, and I could have just slept through it. But I don't think that's the case. We had an empty house. My kids all share one room, and last night there were no sisters to toss and turn and wake him. Naaman had the room all to himself. Our au pair is in the next room, and she keeps odd hours (perhaps to talk to friends and family in Thailand?), often awake and moving about in middle of the night. But last night she was not there, either.
So it was quiet a place last night, and Naaman slept from 7pm Daylight Savings Time to 6am Daylight Standard Time – 12 hours. He's usually more of a 10 or 11 hour nightime sleeper. This was beautiful. Perhaps we should get rid of mommy, the sisters and au pair more often . . .
Of course not. That would be rediculous. As hard as it can be to live with family – their noise, their routines and habits, and their varrying needs – we need them. Naaman needs his sisters and his mother. Naaman's face lights up when he sees Ann (our au pair) in the mornings. We are part of a family, and though an ocassional solitary night might be an unexpected boon, it leaves a gaping hole in our daily routine and a yearning for everyone to come back together.
I think of this, in part, as an analogy to church. Sometimes it can be so tempting to go it alone, to ditch long-standing relationships, to seek to "start from scratch" and reject the "we've always done it this way" rigidness that happens when people get together and develop patterns of life together. Sometimes – sometimes – I wonder if this is why some pastors start up their own, new churches, or walk away from their denomination and the often-complicated relationships and challenges of being in a denomination. Can it be "easier" in one sense to just build a new church rather than work with an older, established church? When people get together, when they live together – in a home or in a church, in daily life or in the worship and ministry life of a congregation – there are inevitable inconveniences and challenges.
Getting away from those strictures might be nice at times, but it cannot be a long-term strategy. We need each other – the patterns and (at times rigid) routines, the comfort and the inconveniences – that comes with being a Christian community. Yes, we need each other, even if at times it wakes us up at odd hours of the night . . .