I have also had to set some ground rules. If I lack energy because I haven't slept well, I might change my habits in the evening so that I am more ready for sleep. If I've worn myself down with too much activity, I try to pace myself. And if I sense that my weariness is more than physical, if I find myself disconnecting from the world in an unhealthy way because of emotional exhaustion or depression, I seek help.

I now understand that the old monk's wisdom was grounded in that of the Psalms he'd recited every day for more than 60 years. The Psalms remind us that whether we are full of energy or drained of it, we are in God's presence. Several Psalms imply that it's when we are asleep, and not so full of ourselves and the noise of our lives, that we are best able to hear God speak to us. In Psalm 16 we read, "I will bless you, Lord. You give me counsel, and even at night direct my heart." When I can truly accept being drained of energy, I see it not as an opportunity, because that implies too much control on my part, but as an opening. It's as if a window has opened, or a door, inviting me to listen. It is liminal (literally, "threshold") time, the fertile ground between waking and sleeping, between doing and being. It is when I am half awake, before my list-making brain takes over and pretends it's in charge, that my best ideas come. But on my off days, when I am stripped of energy and feel too stupid even to think, all I can do is pray.

I might pray for those whose energy is sapped by serious illness or the depredations of old age. I might turn to the Book of Common Prayer and try to adopt the bravado of one of my favorite morning prayers: "This is another day, O Lord.... If I am to stand up, help me to stand bravely. If I am to sit still, help me to sit quietly. If I am to lie low, help me to do it patiently. And if I am to do nothing, let me do it gallantly."

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