Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Sabbath

I’ve been trying to decide whether I want to talk about chickens today or Sabbath. We got a couple of chickens last week. Our neighbors had fallen out of love with their chickens when they stopped laying and they’ve decided to start over with a new flock this spring. So they gave us a couple of chickens to practice on. We named them after our mothers. If you remember Blanche from last week’s blog you will not be surprised that the chicken named for her quite literally flew the coop and walked back home to her peeps, her head bobbing in rhythm to her feet as she scurried home. We knew it was pointless to try to catch her.


Lois

Lois stayed three or four days until she did the same. We had them just long enough to know that, yes, we would like a flock of chickens. But we still have some work to do before we can get serious. Secure housing will be first on our list.

Alas, they didn’t stay long enough to provide me with enough fodder for a blog. Something related to the chickens did, however. During the process of adopting the chickens we had such a wonderful weekend that I experienced a Sabbath. A real live Sabbath. And, yes, in spite of attending worship on a regular basis for the majority of my long life, I don’t experience a true Sabbath very often. But I am gaining the ability to recognize one when I find it.

In the midst of becoming chicken owners we had one of the best weekends of my life. Emily and both granddaughters were here for the weekend. The weather was wonderful and everyone played outside all day long Saturday. The neighbor brought his car over to our house to work on it and it was a joy to watch him teach his son how to do some things. He patiently explained the purpose of the parts he was replacing. He would get the nut started on the bolt then let Nathan finish tightening it. We had about eight kids at various times in our backyard or out in the field. We have plenty of room so nobody got in anyone’s way. Sometimes the nine goats followed the kids over. Some of the goats are pregnant and ready to deliver any time now so they are rather slow and waddle when they walk. And one of them is still just a baby. I haven’t learned all their names yet but the baby would periodically jump straight up like springs were attached to her feet.

It was one of those glorious days where the air was crammed full of innocence and possibilities. The thought came to me: “This what ‘re-creation’ means.” I understood why we gave the word ‘recreation’ to the process of enjoying oneself. That night I felt refreshed as though this was what I was created for in the first place. Could it be that one of the reasons I was put on this earth was to embrace and enjoy the air, the clouds and the fellow humans God gave me?

I have a bunch of books on the Sabbath. Some of them I’ve even read. (Yes, I thought that might impress you.) I have read that God gave humanity a command to rest on a regular basis not only to recharge our batteries but also to play with God. And it was a command not an option. Just as we are constricted by a commandment to not kill or steal, we are unbound by a command to enjoy ourselves by spending the day with our Creator.

The idea of playing with God appeals to me. My Jewish friend, Nancy, spends the whole Sabbath with her family just goofing off. They devote the entire day to family. They play games, read, watch some videos and take long naps. They spend time enjoying each other, sometimes never changing out of their pajamas. It’s not a chore of what the day forbids but a feast of what the day brings.

The mild weather we’ve had lately has enabled me to spend a lot of time outdoors this winter. It has been so nice outside that I’ve wondered if it might be a sin to neglect time outdoors. This weather has been a gift from God and to ignore the fresh green grass and clear blue sky is just ungrateful. For me, spending time outdoors with neighbors was an act of worship and thanksgiving as much as being inside any church sanctuary..

The same weekend the kids came over I was clearing brush in the northern most section of our land. I spent some time by one of our oldest trees. It died a couple of years ago, presumably of old age and only the stump remains. It sits on the edge of a stand of oaks. It sat there untouched all this time. Vines had grown over it and new trees sprouted in the sun that emerged when the tree’s shade disappeared. The ground beneath it has composted with years of old dead leaves and rotting limbs that have fallen as the tree died. As I cleared out the vines I found some of the cleanest, most fragrant, light, nutritious soil I’ve seen in a long time--soil so clean that you could almost eat it. I longed to dig in it up to my elbows.

I delighted in the soil. It wasn’t merely dirt. It was a re-creation of something old that God had taken and processed into a new life. I wanted to take it all and put it into my garden or maybe take my seeds and plant something there under the tree stump. It was life-affirming soil.

I walked the labyrinth on Monday. The ground was dry enough that I set my iPhone on the ground in the center and listened to music while I walked. I had a couple of questions for God and a few complaints. We didn’t get anything resolved between us but I felt “listened to” and loved.

Lately I’ve missed God. I have been forgetting to take God with me as I wander through the week. I sometimes fall into a trap of going to church without much thought.  I accidentally leave God at home -- in the trees calling to the pine needles as God’s breath rubs the needles together making a soft sound, calling through the wind. Calling me, urging me to come, come and see what God has made.

I am glad to have caught myself so I can turn around and catch up with my Creator.

1 comment:

revanneh said...

Well, this was worth waiting for. Here's my response by T.S. Eliot from "East Coker":

...I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.
Whisper of running streams, and winter lightning.
The wild thyme unseen and the wild strawberry,
The laughter in the garden, echoed ecstasy
Not lost, but requiring, pointing to the agony
Of dying and birth...

Paz, Sister,
Anne