a little something extra

Monday, June 04, 2007

Sabbath 26

Links to Cristopher's and Tripp's posts when they appear.

With this chapter, titled "Beginner's Mind," we reach the end of the Wisdom section of the book. After this chapter my co-readers and I are taking a three-week break to accommodate some overlapping travel plans within our little trio. We'll resume on or about July 1 and proceed through the eight or so chapters still ahead.

"Beginner's Mind" posits the universal truth that we don't know, for sure and in complete detail, what's coming. Muller advocates for taking regular Sabbath rest as a source of strength, calm and sometimes, problem-solving in the face of the vicissitudes life throws at us.

Muller describes many people's devotion to busy-ness as an attempt to shield themselves from the slings and arrows (sorry folks, Hamlet opened three days ago, these phrases are running rampant in my brain) or to prepare for the un-preparable-for. Of course, this technique doesn't work 100% of the time.

There's wisdom in working hard and being prepared for what you can be prepared for. But there's folly in believing that having worked hard, you are completely prepared and proof against bolts from the blue.

He tells a funny story about a man who wouldn't say he knew where he was going, even though he'd gone to the same place at the same time by the same route every morning for the past 25 years. Of course, I'm more interested in where people think they are going, or where they're trying to go. And then we head down a semantic cul-de-sac that is just not very interesting. So, no more of that.

About midway through the chapter, Muller hits on a sentence that makes me smile. "Only inertia and faith keep us upright -- and still we worry, and often." Oh yes, we do -- or at least, I do.

And that connected with a sentence late in the chapter that did not make me smile: "The presumption of the Sabbath is that it is good, and that the wisdom, courage and clarity we need are already embedded in creation." This is an excellent reflection of the basic leap of faith that one may or may not be capable of taking.

And if you can't take the leap? Sometimes pretending, or entertaining the possibility of, gets you part way there. I can't say for sure that creation is good, or imbued with wisdom or kindness. But I can pretend it is and choose my behavior accordingly, leaving a thin background of watchful suspicion but committing most of myself to the "what if" of the moment.

Similarly, I can't say for sure that a god exists, let alone whether that god resembles anything like the portraits that are painted by the Judeo-Christian scriptural collection. But I can entertain the possibility of god, and see where I go from there.

Consciously pleasurable bathing is Muller's exercise for this week. I'm easy to haul on board with that, though this week's schedule of music rehearsals and performances every night will make time for long baths scarce. Nevertheless, it's a good idea.