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Friday, February 02, 2007
Sabbath Keeping scrap
Early last December, I was part of a conference in Houston where Lauren Winner was one of the keynote speakers. She spoke on Sabbath keeping, a subject on which I have become keenly interested in the past 7 years. She opened her lecture by reading an excerpt from "Stranger in the Midst," Nan Fink's memoir recounting her conversion to Judaism. I later found the piece in Winner's book, Mudhouse Sabbath. It captured my attention.

"On Friday afternoon, at the very last minute, we'd rush home, stopping at the grocery to pick up supplies. Flying into the kitchen we'd cook ahead for the next twenty-four hours. Soup and salad, baked chicken, yams and applesauce for dinner, and vegetable cholent or lasagna for the next day's lunch. Sometimes I'd think how strange it was to be in wuch a frenzy to get ready for a day of rest.

Shabbat preparations had their own rhythm, and once the table was set and the house straightened, the pace began to slow. 'It's your turn first in the shower,' I'd call to Michael. 'Okay, but it's getting late,' he'd answer, concerned about starting Shabbat at sunset.

In the bathroom I'd linger at the mirror, examining myself, stroking the little lines on my face, taking as much time as I could to settle into a mood of quietness. When I joined Michael and his son for the lighting of the candles, the whole house seemed transformed. Papers and books were neatly piled, flowers stood in a vase on the table, and the golden light of the setting sun filled the room. . . .

Shabbat is like nothing else. Time as we know it does not exist for these twenty-four hours, and the worries of the week soon fall away. A feeling of joy appears. The smallest object, a leaf or a spoon, shimmers in a soft light, and the heart opens. Shabbat is a meditation of unbelievable beauty."


posted by John David Walt | at 2/02/2007 07:53:00 AM



Anonymous chad said...

Lauren Winner's book on her conversion has been a big part of Meredith and I's life. I really envy her background in judaism, and the way it allows her to look at the world.

Thanks for your thoughts this last week on sabbath at the retreat. It is one of those subjects that keeps coming back to me so much, I know that I must keep it on the forefront of my thoughts.

10:51 AM EST  
Blogger Lindsay said...

I really enjoyed "Mudhouse Sabbath" (and Lauren's other books) for emphasizing the need we have to honor some of the traditional Jewish ideas which help regulate our lives. The liturgical life is so beautiful!

peace and blessings to you and your family!

6:53 PM EST  
Anonymous JP said...

Sabbath is like no other. I began the discipline of a sabbath many years ago and have never regretted it. It's possible, even with babies and toddlers, modified a bit, but still sabbath.
Don't mean to toot my own horn, but I wrote an article on sabbath for Discipleship Journal back in the Jan/Feb, 2002 issue...may still have a link to it on the DJ site, don't know. Just writing about it made me want to enjoy it even more!
Eugene Peterson has some good stuff on sabbath in Working the Angles, as well.

12:31 PM EST  
Blogger eli said...

ummm...did you write this little article on Sunday?

8:34 PM EST  
Blogger kevin said...

I have a friend who has recently embraced (within the last 10 years...he's in his 60's) his Jewish heritage from a practical atheism. The beauty and pain of the High Holy Days like Yom Kippur, his cultural identity, and a sense of relationship to others and to God have driven him to embrace what he calls 'religion.' Living in Lynchburg, VA within the shadow of Falwell has 'overshadowed' his idea of Christianity, but his new openness have given him a fluidity in accepting other displays of following Christ. Some of my most peaceful memories are of dinners spent with him on the Sabbath. He is divorced and lives alone near the college where he teaches. The food is prepared early and the candles are lit. We sit down to a meal that begins with a Hebrew blessing, and the peace settles on the room. The meal slowly proceeds, casually, without a mind of the time or any thought of the world outside. It's as if we enter a time of friendship completely removed from the driven world outside, with only the food and drink and dim candlelight. Sabbath like that reminds me that time, the true reminder of our humanity and the uncontrollable factor in so many equations, is only another created circumstance absolutely under God's dominion. We give time back to God who returns it to us as a blessing.

9:46 PM EST  

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