I love sleep. The refreshment of the Sunday post-church clergy nap. The joy of sliding into clean sheets. The cocoon of comfort under the covers while the ceiling fan swirls cool air all around. I love sleep. So it is that I noticed with some trepidation yesterday this idea that in John’s Revelation of the new heaven and the new earth that there will be no night. If, in fact, the glories of heaven are beyond even my wildest imagination, then at the very minimum, it will include biscuits and gravy, some sort of non-injurious football, and the opportunity to sleep.
As this somewhat ridiculous mental exercise was bouncing around in my head yesterday, the pilgrimage in which I am journeying took a tour of about three blocks of Savannah, Georgia from the River where slave ships docked to the slave auction block that sat in the shadow and under the protection of Christ Episcopal Church. Our guide, the operator of Underground Tours of Savannah, Sister Patt, is a descendent of the Gullah Geechee people and those among the 14 different tribes stolen from the Golden Coast and sold into slavery in the United States. Sister Patt shared with us some of the customs and language of the Gullah Geechee, including this concept of “Day Clean.”
For the Gullah Geechee, sunrise is Day Clean, it is God wiping the slate clean for a fresh start. As it says in Lamentations, “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; God’s mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning.” Each morning is an opportunity to choose, yet again, to live for the Kingdom of God, to seek justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God. In 21st century America, we almost live without night and the natural cycles of time. Each day is not its own, but part of a never ending slog toward progress. The hamster wheel never slows down. But if we are intentional about marking time, as our ancestors did, I think this concept of Day Clean can be of great value. It is a way to honor the good and the bad that happened yesterday, to offer it to God, and then to start the day fresh, forgiven, restored, and working toward a more hopeful future.
As I sat on the beach at Isle of Palms, SC this morning, I gave thanks for the opportunity of a new beginning, a fresh start, a Day Clean, as I seek to discern how God is calling me to take what I’ve learned and experienced during this week into my life and my ministry. I wish for you, dear reader, the chance to experience a Day Clean for yourself.