Chapter 22 of the Rule is not something most of us ever have to think about. We don’t sleep every evening in large groups. But the monks had to do it, so Benedict is faithful to describe how even their sleeping is to occur.
We probably don’t think enough about sleep, even though to maintain good health we should spend about one-third of our lives doing it. Anything which occupies upwards of that much time cannot be excluded from our spiritual formation.
My take on this chapter is simple: Benedict wanted the monks to sleep well. He knew that the quality of their day was directly related to the tranquility of their night. I’ve told people, “You cannot have early morning prayer and ‘Late Night With Jimmy Kimmel.”
By-and-large, we are a sleep-deprived people. Studies come out every so often to document this fact and to show the consequences of it. Benedict would say that a sleep-deprived person is also a God-deprived person.
It’s important and encouraging to see that “Get a good night’s sleep” is as much a part of the Rule as all the other things we’re looking at. St. Francis said the soul rides on Brother Donkey. If our “donkey” (body) is not in good shape, we will not go as far as God intends for us to go, or go there as well as we could.