I suspect I am not the only one struggling with sleep these days.  I’m starting to think in terms of sleeps per week, rather than hours per night.  Minds are racing.  Swirling in a barrage of information.  Planning how to manage this; how to survive.  Worrying about our loved ones, and those we may not know, but are aware they face serious danger.  Wondering what our world will look like after this passes.  It is amazing to me how much our brains can take in and then spit out in the middle of the night!

So, I offer another lullaby.  Perhaps the most famous of them all, Brahms’ lullaby (Wiegenlied), was written for someone he loved.  It struck me that this is important for all lullabies, and maybe something we can each hang onto when we’re lying awake at night.

Guten Abend, gute Nacht,
mit Rosen bedacht,
mit Näglein besteckt,
schlupf unter die Deck:
Morgen früh, wenn Gott will,
wirst du wieder geweckt,
morgen früh, wenn Gott will,
wirst du wieder geweckt.

Guten Abend gute Nacht,
von Englein bewacht,
die zeigen im Traum
dir Christkindleins Baum:
Schlaf nur selig und süß,
schau im Traum’s Paradies,
schlaf nur selig und süß,
schau im Traum’s Paradies.


Good evening, good night,
Bedecked with roses,
Adorned with carnations,
Slip under the covers.
Tomorrow morn, if God wills,
You’ll awake once again.
Tomorrow morn, if God wills,
You’ll awake once again.

Good evening, good night,
Little angels watch over;
In a dream they show
You a Christmas tree.
Sleep only blessed and sweet,
See paradise in your dream.
Sleep only blessed and sweet,
See paradise in your dream.

These words say all the usual things we expect from a lullaby.  Tomorrow is another day, we will wake refreshed, we will have sweet dreams, we are blessed.  These things are comforting.  They offer hope and reassurance.  But today, I find myself drawn to the odd lines about being bedecked with roses and adorned with carnations (or cloves, in some translations).  What does that mean?

Roses and carnations.  Beautiful flowers and fragrance.  Things we may receive or purchase on special occasions.  The result of gardening for no other reason than beauty.  Things once used to ward off evil and disease.  These are the things we are to be surrounded with to provide a peaceful sleep.

When I contemplate our current situation, I look to those around us that have become our roses and carnations.  The beauty I see each day that has risen above the chaos and offered deep comfort.  The friends and family that are communicating much more frequently than usual.  The kindnesses being offered.  The generosity of conversation and material things.  The compassion of those working to provide for all of us, to ensure we are fed and supplied.  The risks graciously taken on by those in the medical and emergency services community. The weight being carried on the shoulders of those hoping to protect their employees’ jobs.  The intense work and decision making being done by our leaders and government officials. The efforts of the clergy attempting to care for their flocks.  The many musicians and artists who are lifting our spirits.  The parents who are educating their children, formally or otherwise.   The friendly smiles and greetings given and received on walks in our neighbourhoods, mostly from strangers and all from a distance.

What a spectacular garden.

Perhaps tonight, when we lie awake pondering our uncertain present and future, it would be of comfort to turn our minds towards these precious flowers.  To offer up prayers, or well wishes, or positive vibes or whatever your spirit prefers, for this glorious garden of generosity and kindness.  A meditation of support.  Surely this is a vision of paradise that will sweeten our dreams with its radiant beauty.  These people are singing us a lullaby with a great deal of love.  Sing it back in whatever ways you can.  Sing it loud or soft.  We are all together in this, and our voices are carrying across the distance.