a little something extra

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Sabbath 8. Really this time.

With this next chapter, we move into the second major section of the book. The section is called Rhythm, and the chapter title is "The Rhythm of Creation."

Muller opens this chapter with a story from his own life that is considerably longer than anything we've encountered so far. This is a welcome change. I didn't particularly feel like I needed to know more about Muller, but when the longer story came, it felt good. The story is of a severe bout of pneumonia and the year-long recuperation period that led to the initial realizations that ultimately took form in this book.

From discussing the micro-rhythms of his recovery in good days and bad days, periods of activity followed by no-choice naps, Muller broadens out into a discussion of the rhythms that he perceives in everything that is created. This retreads some ground from the earlier part of the book, but this doesn't annoy me as much as last week's example.

He includes the image "The fruit contains the seed, and the seed contains the fruit." which puts me in mind of 1970s psychedelic animated cartoons... shows you exactly when my formative years fell, doesn't it? But silliness aside, the image is potent. Everything we do has the future embedded in it, but the thing we do now and the future are not alike. There are times that will be full and abundant (fruit), and times that will be hard, small and seemingly immobile (seed). Over and over.

Of course, Muller brings this back to more advocacy for regular periods of rest -- that is, after all, the overarching subject of this book. He closes the chapter with the opinion that observing sabbath time is not intended to be "a burdensome requirement from some law-giving deity -- 'You ought, you'd better, you must' --

and this makes me hope that Tripp will respond to this post. In many of his early posts, he noted that he wanted to create a Sabbath "discipline," and I argued with him briefly that that approach made Sabbath into work, which was the exact opposite of the point. Then I backed off, because I thought, "Who am I to tell someone else how to manage their sabbath, or any other part of their life? Let him do it his way. Maybe I'll learn something."

So Tripp... how's it going?

This week's exercise is called the Sabbath Walk. It is, essentially, to take a walk without an agenda, stopping when you feel like it and starting when you feel like it.

Of course, because Muller is Muller, he waxes fulsomely on about things like "a leaf, a stone, a color..." Fulsome he may be, and more focused on time spent outdoors than I ever will be. But the exercise feeds into something I've set an intention to do anyway: to walk in my city once a week.

I have the habit of staying home, born of the need not to spend money and an abiding distaste for the place I had been living until this past summer. But since I moved, I want to get to know the place I'm living. And God knows this is the world's friendliest climate for walking.

So, today after church I had 45 minutes to absorb before the library would open. I walked a number of blocks in downtown Long Beach, along streets I had not traveled before. It wasn't at all the Sabbath walk Muller envisions, because frankly I can't afford to be that relaxed while walking alone. But I don't intend to do this one of Muller's exercises anyway. I'll move along and see what the next one offers me.


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