Sunday, December 13, 2015

A thoughtful Sabbath

You know how people (well, writer peoples anyway) do things to avoid writing?

Well sometimes I write to avoid doing things.

The current activity I'm avoiding is making soup.

And going to the store to get things to make the making of a soup possible.

I gave one of my coworkers a ride this week, and during our short drive we got to talking about the Sabbath. For her it's Shabbat, as she's an observant Jew.

We had a surprisingly nice conversation (I say this because we've seen each other every weekday for two years and this was the first time we actually talked) about how our world is messed up and we need to start being nicer to each other, etc. etc.

But the conversation that kicked things off -- and I can't even remember how we started on this note -- was about taking a Sabbath.

She told me how she uses a hot plate that turns on with a timer, so she doesn't have to ignite a flame on Saturdays. How she often takes a nap. How when the darkness of Friday night settles in, she kind of forgets the world and its woes. Its oh so many terrible woes.

This woman is in a very successful position in our company, one she's held for many years. She said to me this week, "I don't know how I would have made it this long without taking a Sabbath."

I've often wondered, in recent years, if there's more I could do (or, as it were, not do) on Sundays to make them more restful. I don't know honestly if my aim is to be more honorable to God in slowing down, but I do wonder selfishly if I could benefit from doing less, one day a week.

I'm reading Lauren Winner's Mudhouse Sabbath, in which she discusses, as a converted Christian, some of the spiritual disciplines and values from her former Jewish faith that she sometimes aches for. As the title advertises, in one chapter she digs into the intricacies of observing Shabbat.

(I discovered Lauren via her memoir, Girl Meets God, and fell oh so in love. Then later I got to interview her and I was very much a swooning reader fan person. But I kept my cool. I think.)

One thing I took away from Winner's discussion regarding Shabbat is that one is not, according to Jewish law, supposed to create on the Sabbath.

This is hard for me.

I am one more likely to take a break on Sundays from the rearrangement of furniture, from raucous sport, large social gatherings...from noise, essentially?, than to go on a creating hiatus. I love to create.

Creating to me is a quiet, and therefore acceptable activity to be conducted on my moderately observant Sundays.

Meditatively tying knots in a string bracelet, quietly stitching on a canvas, absorbed in thought as I tap out a blog post about my musings.

These things to me seem restful, even if cognitively active. Wholesome. Calm. Amish.

So when I read in Mudhouse that writing poetry or composing a song (two things that happen a lot in our household, between me the writer and my roommate the musician) were off limits when observing a day of rest, it gave me pause. Apparently this rule of not creating comes from the fact that on the seventh day God took a break from creating, so in observing this action we must follow suit.

Now. I'm not an observant Jew, so I'm not losing sleep over the fact that I'm blogging right now and the calendar says Sunday.

But I did refrain from vacuuming just a bit ago, after I removed some of my belongings from the cluttered living room. I decided it was courteous to tidy up for Abby's sake, but then decided to stop short as I reached for the Dirt Devil. That said, I can't promise I won't clean up some stuff in my room later today. One thing that gives me peace on Sundays is to see my environment become more peaceful. A still, made bed, rather than one heaped with the week's discarded clothes, piles of books in the corner by my pillows. So sometimes I take the time to clean on Sundays, since the rest of the week I ignore the urge to dust and polish.


So back to the soup, which I am avoiding.

I'm going to make the soup today. Like I said, I'm not a practicing Jew, so it's OK within my faith to ignite the stove and chop veggies and stir broth. But I also need to make it today, because I signed up for our company potluck tomorrow and if I don't make it today then I need to wake up early. Which could be peaceful, but I'm not sure I'm up for it on a Monday.

I do wish I could skip the soup, though. I have a social gathering I'm invited to today, and I need to buy a crock pot to keep the soup warm tomorrow. I'd like to avoid all these things.

I don't want to go to the store(s). I don't want to schmooze. I want to sit. I want to stay in.

Sometimes I'm jealous when I hear of people who take observance of the Sabbath a little more seriously than I do. As a Christian, I'm grateful that I'm not tied to hundreds of laws not only during the weekend but throughout each week. But I find myself hungering for a break, for a sincere slowing down, and I'm not sure how to go about it.

I hope that today's soup-making can be centering, that I can easily move through the peeling and dicing and measuring with thoughts of domestic care taking. I hope that I can focus on the people who will eat it tomorrow, who slurped it up last year with gusto and who got excited when I told them that I would make it again this year.

Maybe I can reflect, as I stir, on the fact that a year ago I was casually Facebook messaging with this guy, and how now that once-casual lad is my serious boyfriend. Focus on God's provisions for me, with the love He gave me in human form. Focus on how He sent us a Christmas babe, perfect LOVE in human form.

If I decide to attend tonight's party, put on by the shelter from where I got Max, I hope that I can reflect on God's provision for me through that community. I hope I can give thanks, as I sip and chat, for the many volunteers at the party, who tube fed my once-feral and violent feline baby. I hope I can give thanks for the people around me who prepared a cat for me while I prepared him a home.

Max cat is snoozing on the doormat know. You would never know he was once on the streets, save for a clipped ear on his right side. I wonder if he remembers. Thanks to the people hosting and attending tonight's party, he doesn't have to remember. He can forget his scary past, as he romps and runs and scratches and sleeps in his happy home.

I don't know just yet how to conduct my Sabbaths. I'd like to do less on Sundays. I'd like to feel more peace. But for today, since I've already committed to activity, I hope I can find peace and rest in my soup. If I must create, I am glad it can be in the shape of writing, loving a cat, and feeding His children.

1 comment:

  1. Hey #2. You should check out this website/blog on Sabbath observing. I found it enlightening.

    Take Care