Tag Archives: Relaxation

Sabbath

Sabbath

Mention the word Sabbath to the average person. If he or she doesn’t give you a blank stare, he or she is most likely entertaining images of puritanical orthodoxy in his or her head, perhaps of quaintly dressed, old-fashioned Quakers or Mennonites.  True Sabbath observation in accordance with Biblical principles in our society is probably limited to a small devout group of Christians of less than 10%, more like 5%.

My Sabbath began with the requisite ferry trip across the river and the customary 40-minute drive to church with the obligatory stop at a local fast food restaurant for a chicken biscuit. The only difference this day was the ferry being bound by fog on the trip across the river. Not quite pea soup, but close, I endured a cold, damp—from the omnipresent moisture—ride. The brightest part of the trip was seeing a little brown and white Sheltie pup for the second time. Since I do not have his master’s or mistress’ permission to use his name in this blog, I’ll call him Winston. (An hommage to Winston Churchill.)  A cheerful, enthusiastic boy, he displayed none of the yappy, anxious characteristics I so often associate with that breed. The deck hands always have a dog biscuit for each canine passenger, today being no exception. My lucky, little tail-wagging friend got two! Perfectly content in his master’s arms, Winston never barked, not once. Just thinking back on the trip brings a smile to my lips.

I have observed the Sabbath from time to time, but I would venture to say that I haven’t done so faithfully for at least two years. Like most people, I have busied myself with all manner of projects and unburdened myself with a nap at the end of each Sunday, but I have not contemplated the Lord and his work as much as I have in the past. A not-so-subtle reminder of my Christian duties came this past Thursday, when I went to an evening presentation on the Sabbath by my friend and mentor, Pastor Eddie. Even though he was giving the presentation to the Methodist Women’s Group, I snuck in.  After all, I reasoned, no one had said that men were excluded from attending. He seemed genuinely glad for the moral support, as he mentioned twice, once while there and once in a post-event email. I commented to him in a subsequent email, “I’ve forgotten how nice it can be to have an evening chat with you!” To Pastor Eddie I owe my understanding of the book of Nehemiah, thanks to Bible study with him a few years ago.

I wholeheartedly agree with Pastor Eddie’s observation that our society would be better off if each of us took the Sabbath. Our families would be stronger, and we would be happier. We might even visit each other and have meals together, a novel thought in this day and age. Citing informal statistics, he noted that we’re killing ourselves with work.  Americans, in his estimation, are working harder and harder each year. If it’s not our boss at our back, we have the drive to make our children happy with the latest toy and to keep up with our neighbors through the acquisition of material possessions.  I’ll often buy something only to regret the acquisition later as happened once with a rather expensive camera I returned to the photography store. It took me hours to decide on this particular model. I brought it home, took it out of the box, messed with it for an hour and knew in my heart that I had made a dreadful mistake. On that gray winter’s day, I even lost time obsessing about the return. With the charge for the memory cards and the restocking fee, I suddenly found myself $400.00 poorer. Lesson learned. Ouch.

Driving home from Thursday’s lecture, I resolved to spend this Sabbath differently. First things first, I would forgo my usual Sunday evening mint julep. Although I enjoy mint juleps immensely—one, mind you—dispensing with one would help me focus on the Lord and lead to a more restful night. I would eat dinner at home and would also stay in with my cats, Raleigh and Georgia, spending more time with them, foregoing the temptation to eat out with friends who usually gather Sunday evenings at a local eatery. I would attend church in the morning, as is my custom, make my usual fast food lunch stop with favorite church friends and try not to make a grocery run on the way home. Once home, I would write this blog—if the Lord’s hand was in it.

Upon pulling into the driveway in my golf cart, I was amazed, as I often am on a Sunday afternoon, at how exhausted I suddenly felt. Maybe it was the trip, maybe it was the salt air, but after tending to the cat’s needs, litterboxes and food, I lay down on my bed and fell fast asleep. When I awoke, I still felt groggy, so I lay there on the bed concentrating on my state of mind. Was I ready to get up, or still sleepy? I don’t know how long I lay there reminding myself that if the cats were happy, I had no reason to arise, not Facebook, not Twitter, not even the blog would get me out of bed. I don’t know how long I rested motionless, drifting in and out of consciousness. I most definitely felt as if I needed to lie there, so I did, pushing disturbing thoughts and frenetic preoccupations out of my mind. I wanted to write a friend who needed some cheer, but not tonight. Dinner would be a Jersey Mike’s turkey sub with extra turkey and extra cheese, so I needn’t have worried about dinner. Georgia, my almost chocolate-point Siamese cat, slept at the foot of the bed on her favorite pedestal, while Raleigh, my tabby-Maine Coon mix, quite unusually, lay down the hall, serenity and contentment the order of the afternoon.

Christmas has long since come and gone, but yours truly still sports a tree in the dinning room, complete with gorgeous decorations collected by my sister and my friends and miniature white lights, along with a fully set Christmas dinner table of Spode® china. It looked so beautiful when we first set it up, I asked my housekeeper to leave everything in place until the beginning of February. We’re a bit late, as you might observe. The island can be so dreary this time of year—what’s wrong with a bit of Christmas cheer?

Surveying this scene by the light of a single large, green Christmas candle from my place setting at the head of the table, I focused on a simple red, green and white Christmas card that a friend had given me. With its profound message, I had placed it at my setting throughout the Christmas season: “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) Perfect for Sabbath contemplations. God is surely in control, as many have often opined. At the other end of the table, perched on a small empty silver chest, is a rustic cross created from the last wood to come from my dad’s farm. Daily reminded of Christ’s sacrifice by it, I caught a glimpse just before coming downstairs to write this blog.

So, there you have my first Sabbath in a long time.  Nothing spectacular: just a friendly Sheltie dog, church, two blissfully happy, rescued formerly feral cats, a thoughtfully trimmed Christmas tree, a fully set table, a Christmas card, a rugged wooden cross, and my blog. I marvel though: like Winston, having passed the Sabbath in the manner in which I did, I am “perfectly content in {my] Master’s arms.”

Sandman

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Photo credit: Joseph Thomas Photography/Shutterstock

 

Photo credit at top of page: Jerry Wait