Personal Notes from Mike
  • A beautiful Ash Wednesday worship this week in Mattoon to begin Lent 2017.  
  • This week's essay is on "Mattresses." As a treat, you may want to check out a couple neat videos from You Tube.  Click Here for a mattress experience from the old Lucy Show featuring Fred and Ethel.  Click Here for a John Denver song, "Grandma's Featherbed."
  • Finished reading Jonathan Alter's excellent book, The Defining Moment:  FDR's Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope. It's an interesting comparison (and escape) while reading the news these days. Also reading What Ifs of American History:  Eminent Historians Imagine What Might Have Been.  This is edited by Robert Cowley. Interesting.  Just started a science fiction novel by my friend and writing mentor, Frank Chadwick:  Come the Revolution.  And I'm stretching out my Hawaii trip from last month by reading James Haley's Captive Paradise:  A History of Hawaii.  Other books this month include several from my library on forgiveness (the March sermon series topic.)  Jie and I saw the movie, "Hidden Figures" Friday.  I highly recommend it.
  • A reminder that daughter Mindy is Gwendolen in the Champaign/Urbana Community theater production of:  "The Importance of Being Earnest," on state March 17-19 at the Parkland Theater.  CLICK here for more information.  Tickets are selling out fast.
  • There are still two or three spaces for my annual civil rights pilgrimage (March 21-24) to Memphis and Little Rock.  Click here to learn more.  Let me know quickly if you want to go.  There will be 15 going:  a mix of people from the Mattoon Church and the Chinese Ministry at U of I.

March 5, 2017
Mattress Stories
I need a new mattress:  a mattress should always be in slightly better shape than you are.  If not, it will pull you down to its level of dilapidation.  I'm fine when I go to bed, but after about four hours of sleep my hips and legs start aching and wake me up. And then there's that coil spring poking out the side.  (of the mattress, not me) 

So...after a week of visiting mattress and furniture stores...and perusing the internet, I now know more about mattresses than you (gentle reader) probably wish
My first impulse when moving into a buying mode is to be economical.  So, I researched used mattresses off Craig's List.  It appears that my best deal there is the $70 twin-sized mattress, "slightly used," "great for college life."  A couple warning bells are sounding on this one though.  First, I suspect that my definition of "slightly used" and the seller's definition may not be in the same ballpark.  And what does "great for college life" mean?  I suspect you can translate that, "If you get drunk enough you won't notice it's the worst bed you've ever slept on."  So I'm going to forgo Craig's List for mattresses.  

Moving up in the world:  there was that ad in the newspaper about a guy in a pickup who will bring a new mattress right to your door for $200. But the internet warns me about guys who sell cheap mattresses like: they may just be passing off used mattresses that have been re-dressed. (Did you ever notice that the internet warns you about nearly everything...except what you read on the internet?)'s "no" to the guy in the pickup.

Eventually I decided to check out some higher end mattresses, just for fun and curiosity.  Fact is, I haven't a clue what makes a mattress expensive. It turns out that t he oldest mattress brand in the world is "Hastens" out of Sweden.  Their top-of-the-line mattress sells for $67,000.  The main difference (as far I can tell) is that they use horse hair.  Another company, one in England, just produced sixty mattresses at a cost of $175,000 each.  They only sell to royalty...or wanna-be royalty.  Horsehair again. 
So...I'm picturing these bald horses...and feeling a little sympathetic. But it turns out that no horses are injured or killed in the making of horsehair mattresses.  (The guy who tries to clip the long hairs off the tail might be injured, but not the horses. )  And I didn't know that those long hairs off the mane and tail are hollow, allowing ventilation in the mattress.  AND horsehair will last about 100 years.  So there you go.  

The world's most expensive mattress, however, is the design of a Dutch architect.  It's a combination art piece and bed that levitates off the ground using magnets:  $1.6 million.  But since the Sunday offerings aren't that good, I'm thinking of something a little more middle class.
I've already decided against the following
  • a hammock (not sure it would help my hip and legs) 
  • a slat bed with a thin mattress on top (had one at a hotel in Venice, Italy once and when I tried to kneel on it my knee broke through the slat boards) 
  • a Murphy bed (that's a bed that folds up into the wall...never slept on one...but seen too many TV comedies) 
  • a bunk bed (been there, done that) 
  • a sofa bed (the bar perpendicular to your back qualifies as an instrument of torture)
  • "Grandma's Featherbed," which was purported to be nine feet high and six feet wide.  

When I Google "beds," I get 15 million results.  That's too much information.  Thus, faced with such massive confusion, I turned to my old standby:  the Bible, where there are only 45 verses to study; most manageable.   

Leviticus demands a clean bed, but this is a family publication so I'll not try to explain the details of all that right here.  

Job felt tortured in his his dreams.  But it wasn't just the bed for Job...he had...issues.

Nothing is said of Jacob's bed, but hearing that he once slept on a stone pillow disqualifies any further endorsements he may make. 

It turns out that King Saul liked sleeping on top of a roof, but no matter how good your mattress is up there, you're not going to feel better in the morning if you happen to sleep-walk off the edge. 

The Psalmist occasionally flooded his bed with tears. I guess there's simply no good way to wet the bed, is there?  

Solomon describes a fun time in bed...while Isaiah refers to maggots in his:  which is why you read Song of Solomon at weddings and not Isaiah.  Plus, Isaiah's bed was too short.  

And Jesus tells the sick to pick up their beds and walk (probably no one in those days had a king-sized bed or Jesus would have had to come up with a different ending to those miracles.)  

But ultimately it is clear that Jesus never spent as much time as me worrying about his next bed.  "Foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head."  Gosh, Jesus even fell asleep in a boat once.  

In other words, perhaps I've thought about this subject long enough!  It's time to get a reasonable mattress, a good night's sleep, and something else to think about.    --Mike

 The Sunday letter is something I have done now for over 20 years.  It is a disciplined musing:  mindfulness, memory, and imagination.  I write it when I first wake up on a Sunday morning and then share it with the congregation.  The letter you see published here is usually revised from what the congregation receives.  This discipline of thinking and writing puts me in the place of describing rather than advising.  It prepares me to proclaim the gospel rather than get preachy with the souls who will sit before me.  --JMS


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