By Julia Soto Lebentritt

Just now, I walked on tiptoe to peek. I smiled at him curled up next to the pillow where I had been sleeping when the alarm rang two hours ago.

The Ukrainians have a saying; “Spyt zhe anhelykamy,” which means the baby is sleeping, or talking with the angels. This is said when the children sleep with their hands open and resting above the head. They have calmness about them, the skin is very clear, and you can see they are in a deep, deep sleep. It is the mother’s work to bring this state of healthy repose to her children as often as needed.

The bible begins with the story of God creating heaven and earth, saying, “Let there be light,” and dividing the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. ” In so doing, God created a world of lullabies.

And on the seventh day, God ended his work and rested from all his work. In so doing, God made rest a habit too, and sanctified a day for it.

Man and woman created in the image of God have dominion over the creatures of the earth, air, and sea. Somehow, in practicing dominion, lordship over earth, we are destroying the order created long ago.

At Earth Day, I saw thousands of people crowding into the Great Lawn at Central Park. They sat peacefully together in groups, heads on bellies, arms around lovers, holding babies and children. People filed like streams meandering in and out careful not to step on each other or shove. They were happy to lift their faces to the sun, many drinking wine and enjoying picnic lunches. Some were alone like me pushing a bicycle, or leaning against a tree reading a book in the multitude. Many people gathered in front of a stand that displayed a sign advertising “hemp”. The table strewn with seeds, the people behind the stand were giving away samples of paper made from hemp, and talking excitedly about the fact that very little hemp is being cultivated today.

We all claimed our places like blades of grass in the Great Lawn. It was a sit-in for earth, a great lawn of hopes and dreams. If there are so many with God’s news in their hearts, who can relax together on a Sunday afternoon in Central Park, then there is hope that the streets of New York City, and earth itself, is safe. There are solutions here on earth, secret treasures liker hemp, and solar power that were given to us from the start, alternative sources that must be empowered, publicized, and tried, or retried.

For the past two decades I have been researching and collecting world lullabies. Like hemp and solar power, lullabies are an ancient source intrinsic to the creation of heaven and earth. There is a world of lullabies throughout the world. All cultures, all nations, and times have developed traditions, stories, songs, and literatures around the need to soothe, relax, and hopefully put the children to sleep, and thereby free their caregivers to work and sleep. Many Hispanic people say the prayer to the Guardian Angel with their children when they put them to sleep: “Angel de mi guardia, dulce companie, no me desanpares ni de noche, o de dia si me desanpares jo me perderia.” This means, “Guardian angel, my sweet companion, do not leave me alone, night or day, because if you leave me alone, I will be lost.”

When we look in on the sleeping faces of our loved ones, babies, children, family, friends, pets, we find the glow of health and trust of centuries in our ongoing human existence. The ways that people all over the earth sing lullabies puts us in touch with nature. As the moon rocks the oceans, the African carries the baby on the back to market, the Puerto Rican rocks the hamaca, the child in the United States rocks the teddy bear, the Chinese sings Yao lan chiú swinging the baby’s basket, the Native American rocks a birch bark cradle, the unborn sways inside the womb….

We all can close our eyes and go to play with the angels because we can create the angels who caress and play and sleep with us, the self-love, the self-care, the self-strength, the self-creator; it is we who are fully capable of resolving our needs, crises and conflicts with our gifts of physical, spiritual, and mental dominion.

When my own mother passed away, I delivered the eulogy in memory of her at the funeral service in a Catholic Church in Troy, N.Y.: “When I think of my mother I remember being held in her arms. I want to give my mother rest now. I want her to feel at home, and at rest.” This eulogy for my mother was a type of adult-to-adult lullaby. Just as the mother passes on the art of the lullaby, so the child becomes the adult now passing on traditions to the next generation, and inevitably singing the lullaby back as a peaceful farewell to the mother who no longer lingers singing lullabies on earth.

Lullabies are not just for children. They make and break attachments between persons of all ages. They can resolve deep and varied conflicts.

This is a time when lullabies are needed. People need to go back to the children in themselves by nurturing themselves, and others. People need to give themselves permission to rest, and our planet Earth needs to be cared for like a baby again.