Monday, August 05, 2019

Sabbath Excuses

The "Disgust in Politics" post is turning out sort of meh, but I will press on.  In the meantime I thought the way my sabbathkeeping worked out yesterday might be instructive.

When I taught the discussion class on the Ten Commandments last year, I was again impressed by the commentary on keeping the Sabbath.  In our culture we automatically think of going to church as the main portion of that, but the scriptures have a different emphasis.  The command is to cease from work.  I have tried to be mindful of that since then.

Our church has two services.  I went to one. I had decided Friday that after finishing with better clothes after church, I had just enough for a load of permanent press, and as I am not working this week, there would be no point in waiting. It's not very much work.  Just a load of laundry.  I use the last of the spay cleaner for the callers and cuffs, and run out.  I have to shop for more before I can complete this.

Well, seeing that I am going shopping anyway - I go to the smaller, more local store, not wanting to get involved with heavy commerce on the sabbath - I might as well get the other things on the list. I like efficiency.  Less wasted motion. Of course, it takes some thinking to be always alert for efficiencies, so I'm thinking if there are other errands, nearby errands that I could do.  Since I'm gong to be out anyway.  So I shop, mail a letter, and bring the groceries in. I go back and finish with the collar spray and put the clothes in the washer. While I was downstairs, it was efficient to empty the dehumidifier, and even more efficient to use that water on the plants outdoors. As I am putting in new grass for repair in a dozen spots around the lawn, it wasn't enough for all of them, so I got out the hose to cover them all.  New grass needs three light mistings every day, so that was the first.

I has been dry, and I noticed the grass burning in a few places.  Hmm, better put down more water on the whole lawn.  This takes about two hours, but non-continuous, just moving sprinklers from place to place. As I'm doing this I am noting what places will need further repair, which will need moss-killer, plus a few other tasks around the yard.  Not that I'm going to do that today, of course.  It's the sabbath.  That would be working on the sabbath. I do, however, make a little map with markings - for use tomorrow. My mind is occupied with how much dirt I should get, and whether I need more seed.

The washer needs an extra spin cycle during this, and while that's happening I take the few remaining clothes out of the dryer to make room for the wet clothes in a few minutes.  I bring them upstairs, but I don't fold those, because that would be working. I do put them in their proper rooms. I go switch the wet clothes. I begin to be worried that I am doing a lot of work for a person who is not supposed to be working, and that my mind is taken up with the tasks of the house. The day is getting on.  I have not reached a "not working" spot yet.  I still have my 4-5 mile walk to do - that's not work really - and I am not going to do a difficult post, but I could throw down something quick on AVI. I should be able to find a few minutes for that.

I did not have lunch, I have taken to fasting for most of the day, taking only fluids. But I will be having cut vegetables with dip starting at about 3 in preparation for dinner, so I cut up vegetables and put them out. I will be grilling tonight, so I cut up the squashes into strips and put basil and garlic powder on them. There are dishes in the sink, and the dishes in the drainer need to be removed before there is room for those.  I discover that the dishwasher has not been emptied yet. Well while I'm right here I should probably do that, for efficiency's sake.

I take the short drive to the long walk. I listen to a podcast, but turn it off, thinking it would be better to pray.  Which I do, but I keep getting distracted and have to start again.

When I get back, I do have to hang up these clothes, because permanent press. I read my email and post a little bit. I read a little on my most usual sites, I check the sports scores but don't linger. It is getting late in the afternoon, after all. I take a short nap, maybe 30 minutes. When I get up it is time to make dinner.  I am texting my wife and children from time-to-time during all of this. There was a book I was hoping to get to. Not gonna happen.  Maybe tomorrow.

At 7:15pm I am putting dinner on the table.  The sun is still up, the sabbath is not yet over. As dinner is wrapping up, I enjoy some last moments of the day, and it is good, prayerful sabbathkeeping, for about fifteen minutes.

I always thought those groups that kept a very strict sabbath with lots of rules, like Orthodox Jews who cannot turn on a light switch because it is considered a form of kindling fire, to be very strange people who put unnecessary burdens on themselves. Don't they know about grace?

It turns out they are right and I am wrong.  Ceasing work is the most important piece, because all the other pieces of sabbathkeeping wait on that one.  Nothing can happen until the work stops.


Texan99 said...

The commandment is "Remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy." The question is whether doing chores numbs you to the specialness of the day, and whether human beings in general can expect to set the Sabbath aside in any way that brings them closer to God if they don't forbear from various activities that consume their attention in worldly or crass ways. I understand why the old tradition began to use "work" as a shorthand for this problem. It's hard for me at almost every moment, not even excepting the moment of taking communion, to remain aware of what I'm about and what my purpose in life is supposed to be. It's much easier to be numb, to coast, to seek momentary pleasure or even surcease from discomfort or anxiety.

I'm an awful Sabbath-keeper. I actually resent having to drive into town to attend church.

Old Curmudgeon said...

Don't despair. Changing habits is harder than anticipated. As an analogy, very few can run a marathon without a considerable amount of training (it would take me a few years).

Remember the command is written, six days of work and then the Sabbath. It helps to schedule as much as possible to be done beforehand. I thought your grouping errands for efficiency was a very good thing. The advice I have seen is to wash clothes and clean the house a day ahead.

It is much easier with rituals to start and signify the day, special clothes, special food. Also, sharing the Sabbath with people makes a difference, provided they also are trying. Not all conversations, but some of the talk should be on topic.

I hope this helps.

Old Curmudgeon