a little something extra

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Sabbath 21

Muller titles this chapter "Sensuality and Delight," and in it he discusses the physical, sensory pathways into Sabbath rest.

As part of that, Muller touches on sex. I'm not going to, as this is far too public a venue. C'est tout.

In his usual anecdotal style, Muller tells a couple of other peoples' stories to illuminate his points about the give-and-take between sense input and Sabbath rest. The first is a story of a woman who re-encountered the traditions of Jewish sabbath when visiting her sister, and because of the sensory impressions of wholesome food, soft music, inviting light and the sound of prayers, was overcome by a sense of belonging -- and by grief over what she had been missing in her life. I also found that that story reminded me how a re-encounter can mean much more than one's initial encounter with the same experience did. When we miss something and long for it, being reunited with it is more meaningful. And when we don't realize that that experience's absence is making us poorer, the surprising power of reunion with it can overcome us, as it did the woman in Muller's story.

The second anecdote I want to pull out appears near the end of the chapter, when he describes a woman who cradled and rocked her hyperactive son whenever he started to spin out of control. The phrase he quotes from her said that she did this "until he could remember who he was." I believe that's a key to Sabbath rest, too. When we dash around accomplishing things, our attention is on the things we're accomplishing, or the obstacles that keep us from accomplishing. When we worry about money or the future, our attention is outside ourselves. Part of Sabbath rest seems to be the experience often phrased non-religiously as "centering ourselves," bringing our attention to rest in our own hearts. In my opinion, this does not reach the self-indulgence of navel-gazing; it just provides a chance to touch base and gently gather our strength for the next push outward.

My last comment about this chapter should be read in the context of a gentle grin at Muller for his focus on the feet. My astrological sign is Pisces, and Pisces is said to be the ruler of the feet. So when Muller brings up images of walking barefoot outside, and of the tradition of foot washing in the Christian churches, I am simultaneously connected to what he's saying, and amused by it. As far as walking barefoot outside goes -- I'm a committed environmentalist, conscious consumer of "green" products, and religious recycler -- but I'm not particularly interested in direct contact with Nature. I live two blocks from the beach, and I am never drawn to go there unless I have visitors I need to entertain. I'm simply an indoor person -- though, it's worth noting, I typically go barefoot at home!

So when Muller brings up outdoor barefootedness as this week's exercise I say to him, as I so frequently do, "You go do that, if it works for you!" But I must salute Cristopher for trying it out. Tripp's post is up now too.


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