a little something extra

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Sabbath 28

This week's chapter is called "The Way of Enough." Muller begins it with a recap of the story of the manna and the Exodus. He uses this old story to make the point that, as he puts it, "whatever was given would be enough."

And yes, already in the very first paragraph of the chapter, I'm ready to challenge Muller. Immediately my brain says back, "Oh yeah? Tell that to the family in my neighborhood that can't keep their kids fed."

Muller knows who his intended readers are, and they don't include the family who can't keep their kids fed. He's writing for bohos like me, who actually have enough money to provide the necessities of life for themselves, but who have a problem with overwork and overwhelm. For us, his privileged audience, he draws a finer distinction betweeen "abundance" (that is to say, "too much, more than you need") and "enough." Muller argues that we should focus on the fact that we have enough, and allow that fact to relax us, not focusing on making it to the abundance of having more than we need.

This is where my second challenge arises. Enough now is not necessarily enough later. I spend significant time concerning myself with later. Muller might argue that time spent worrying about later is not Sabbath time.

He's not saying "Never concern yourself with the future." He is saying, "Use the Sabbath time to admit a new point of view to your thinking. Use it to experience having enough, and being thankful for the enough you have." When Sabbath time is over, then there's time to return to planning and working and storing away... and perhaps one will do that so much better because of the restoring effects of the Sabbath.

Muller's recommended exercise this week instructs us to set an empty place at our tables, and hold in mind all the people living and dead, near and far who "join you there in spirit." This will be an interesting thing to try at some supper this week. I have no one to explain it to, so it will just have the chance to work on me.

Links to Tripp's and Cristopher's posts when they go up.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Sabbath 27

And, we're back, all from our various early summer travels. Tripp and Cristopher have both posted about this chapter already. It begins a new section of the book, entitled "Consecration."

Since I'm posting this from work, I'm going to confine myself to two quick points -- one thing in the chapter that resonated well with me, and one thing that didn't. (Cristopher, I'll give you one guess as to what the second item will be.)

What Worked: Something Muller mentioned in a story about a woman preparing to scatter her late mother's ashes. He referred to her "making the day a sacred vessel" for this purpose. While "sacred" has many meanings to many people, and is therefore a particularly potent and dangerous word, even standing back from it I appreciated the deliberate commitment of the day to a particular purpose. I find that calming and strengthening, and it's an approach I may incorporate into my life more frequently, even concerning events that are nowhere near as important as the scattering of someone's ashes.

What Didn't: The exercise. (Yes, Cristopher, you were right.) Muller, who apparently was never Catholic, advocates for a more or less formal act of confession.


After Cristopher read this chapter, we had an interesting email exchange about a key difference between the RCC sacrament of reconciliation and the Episcopal approach to the idea of confession. The RCC posits that only a priest can deliver the absolution of sin. (I say again, FEH!) Cristopher articulated the Episcopal approach as considerably looser, with the clergyperson as reminder and articulator of God's love, not as gatekeeper to absolution.

As many of my small group of readers know, I have little use for clergy. It's a neverending challenge to me that two of my dear friends have chosen ordination. And I certainly have little use for clergy inserting themselves into the fundamental relationship between the individual and the divine, as is done in the practice of confession.

Needless to say, I won't be pursing Muller's exercise for this week, avec ou sans clergy. Next!!