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Sabbath Day

January 31, 2012

I have already had two seriously compromised sabbath days in 2012. Taking God’s command seriously, not only for my own health, but that of my family and the congregation I serve, I took a sabbath day today.

My morning was largely spent talking with my spouse about our first vacation (coming this month) since last August. Then I got to work editing my notes for my dissertation.

The bulk of the afternoon was spent reading poetry. OK., this observation is two week late, but, why am I just now discovering Billy Collins? I came upon a discarded early volume of his poetry a few weeks ago and fell in love. Over the last two weeks I have lingered over The Apple that Astonished Paris. Can anyone recommend another volume?

Today has been spent slowly, slowly absorbing Thomas Transtromer. He won the Nobel Prize last year (2011) for Literature. Transtromer is a Swedish poet who has been publishing continuously since 1954. His complete poems have been published  in English translation as The Great Enigma: New Collected Poems. I first encountered Transtromer through Robert Hass’ Poet’s Choice columns, and subsequently through his poem “Prelude” from 17 Poems.

As we head into February, the following from “Face to Face” from the collection The Half-Finished Heaven, is a gift. (The Great Enigma, page 50)

In February living stood still.

The birds flew unwillingly and the soul

chafed against the landscape as a boat

chafes against the pier it lies moored to.


The trees stood with their backs turned to me.

The deep snow was measured with dead straws.

The footprints grew old out on the crust.

Under a tarpaulin language pined.


One day something came to the window.

Work was dropped, I looked up.

The colors flared. Everything turned around.

The earth and I sprang up toward each other.

My late evening has been spent reading about Africa through journalists, historians, novelists, and political activists. I am preparing for worship on Sunday, the first of four weeks during Black History Month of listening to the witness of Christianity from principally black regions of our world from which our congregation draws members: West Africa, the West Indies, Central/East Africa, and South Africa. Suggestions for liturgy, prayer and song would be welcomed.

Days hallowed to our God ensure that we will live long in the land to which God has led us.

One Comment leave one →
  1. hudrivprescrosscultural permalink
    January 31, 2012 9:39 am

    Jeff, I have more Billy Collins for you to borrow. He’s one of my favorites. Thanks for the post! I’m looking forward to this month of worship at White Plains.

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