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Sabbathing

May 4, 2019

“If you do not observe the sabbath as a sabbath, you will not see the Father.”
Gospel of Thomas, 27:2

FINALLY!

A conjunction of beautiful weather and a pause in the urgencies that have kept me from taking more than partial sabbath for months now. I thank all those who have been watching me carefully and urged me to take this day, and those whose Sabbath practice inspires me.

After eight weeks without coffee (:o), on Thursday I relished a half dozen cups while reading a commentary on the Gospel of John by Allen Dwight Callahan. (I know, that doesn’t sound like Sabbath, but it is what I really wanted to do in the morning. I’m gearing up to teach the Johannine literature on Monday evenings and was pursuing lots of personal questions. I tinkered with several other books before giving in to what I really wanted to read with the capacious time of what promised to be a whole day). The morning sun was so warm and bright on the balcony where I was reading that I had to apply sunscreen and don sunglasses. 

I also did four loads of laundry.

By noon I was restless and hearing the voice of a colleague and friend encouraging me to get out on my bike. At this time last year I was cycling in Palestine. I dusted off and adjusted my helmet, pumped the tires to 90 psi, and took out my Crosstrek for a rather comfortable ten-plus miles along the Bronx River to the Kensico Dam and back. This was my first ride of the year. I had experienced some leg trauma the day before, so I was taking it easy. Nevertheless, it felt great to be out and I kept dreaming of twenty, thirty, forty miles next time out. Ambition and desire reignited. 

2019-05-02 13.00.31

On my way home I parked my bike and enjoyed a gourmet vegetarian ‘hot dog’ at the Dog Den near the train station (and nearly home), a ritual I developed while cycling last year. After seven months a vegetarian, it was simply not the same. 

While eating my meal, and reading eco-theology on my kindle app, I received a text from another colleague inviting me to go hiking with her next Thursday. Really? Two sabbaths in a row? Doing what I love and what gives me life? Restoring rhythms that feed my soul? Yes, I replied. Yes. 

Back home, and a hot shower later, I sank into a memoir given me by a member of the congregation I serve because she understands my love of genealogy. I read nearly half of Dani Shapiro’s Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love while folding laundry, listening to Dylan, sitting on the lacrosse field, playing taxi driver for Noelle and August, and just fussing around the house. Every two dozen pages or so I would stop and poke around my own ancestry.com page, exploring and comparing DNA Circles. How could my sister and I, my cousins and I, receive such different genetic packages?

2019-05-03 20.04.13

It became obvious to me that my Sabbath involved enjoying gifts and encouragement given to me by others. I am grateful.

There was a nap in there somewhere, Indian take-out, assisting August with his homework, and a greyhound (gin and grapefruit). Also St. Augustine, Irenaeus, (and, yes,  about an hour of work related phone conversation.)

And then the rain came. 

For which I am also grateful, because the soil I prepared on my previous “sabbath day” for the church, and planted with 30 nursery school children over the weekend, needed the water. A week later, those seeds we planted are poking through the soil.

2019-05-03 16.34.33beans emerging amidst transplanted onions

All in all, a fulfilling, rewarding day that left me craving more.

I think the Gospel of Thomas got it right, “If you do not observe the sabbath as a sabbath, you will not see God.” The sabbath is the foundation of both justice and health, which is God doing what God always and ever does, giving God’s own life to us to participate in and enjoy.

Oh Sabbath, how I missed you. Need you. Was withering without you. 

Thank you.

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