a little something extra

Monday, September 03, 2007

Sabbath: Morning

When people of Christian background or persuasion think about the Sabbath, most of them tend to think of Sunday morning. It's the traditional time for group worship services, often followed by a special meal with family and friends.

As a person who stayed as far as possible from churches for about half my life, I rarely thought about Sunday morning as the Sabbath. When I was in graduate school, I did try to keep Sunday free from meetings or rehearsal commitments (usually a losing battle), but that had more to do with fighting physical fatigue and trying to defend time to keep up with my academic workload than it did with any spiritual impulse.

It still, frankly, bugs me that I go to church. I don't know whether or how I'll resolve that. But that's not really what this chapter is about.

With this chapter, Muller recommends and recounts different ways that people can use morning time to practice the Sabbath. He describes individual and family traditions ranging from verbal prayer to meditation to outdoor athletics to the "slotha yoga" he referred to in an earlier chapter.

There's nothing in the chapter that is especially revolutionary when taken on its own. What makes Muller's approach somewhat innovative is how broadly he answers the implied question "How can one celebrate or establish Sabbath in the morning?" Many people's answer would be "Go to church." Full stop. Muller brings much greater breadth of mind than that.

For me, the best way to ruin my day is to make me rush in the morning. Now, I tend to be on time for things. Since I'm singing in the choir at the Church of What's Happenin' Now, Northern Outpost, that means I need to be in the building by 9:30. So I let my alarm go off as early on Sundays as I do during the week, and that gives me time to arise somewhat slowly and gently, shower and dress, make a real breakfast (legacy from my father, who worked his way through college as a short-order cook and later established the practice of Sunday morning breakfast for my family, including the dog, who ate eggs and bacon with the rest of us) and clean up before I have to leave.

I wouldn't strictly count any of that as Sabbath in the spiritual or theistic sense. But it's damned healthy for me, whatever label you paste over it. And by the time the 10:00 service begins, I am alert and focused for whatever message that service may bring, and usually ready to pay good, loving attention to the people in the congregation.

I also think it helps to live someplace that is so remarkably beautiful in the morning. If I have the time and inclination, I can walk two blocks south from my apartment building and stand on the bluff overlooking the beach and the Pacific, passing gorgeous flower gardens and noting the neighborhood Buddhist monastery that stands on the corner by the ocean. (It used to be an RCC facility -- they still have a "Virgin Mary in the grotto" on the lawn.) And it is always sunny. It. Is. Always. Sunny. Just try to be grumpy in the morning after walking a couple of blocks in the cool, clear sunlight.

Thus endeth the Sabbath rambling for this week. Links here to Cristopher's and Tripp's posts, if and when.


At 7:40 AM , Blogger Tripp Hudgins said...

It sounds like the walk is more your Sabbath ritual than church. Interesting...maybe not what you meant, but it just sorta jumped out at me.

At 9:42 AM , Blogger meeegan said...

Not at all what I meant. If I happen to see the ocean on the way to my car in the morning, that's nice. But there's nothing more to it than that, much as you might wish there were, my dear!

At 9:04 PM , Blogger Tripp Hudgins said...

Not wishing...just something that seemed to be there.

Eh. Enjoy the water!

At 9:51 PM , Blogger Benjamin said...

We recently came back from a trip to Lake Tahoe (well, Truckee, CA, really) wherein we attended a family reunion. The weather there was perfectly sunny. Perfectly. Sunny. Tho I am by genetic disposition a night-owl, tending to hit my stride around 1 AM, I found myself perfectly happy to get up at 7 AM every morning just to partake of the absolutely crystalline quality of the light. The sunlight there is so clean, being as it is not being filtered through three hundred pounds per cubic foot of toxic ejaculate from towering industrial smokestacks and 3000 comprehensively unnecessary SUV exhaust pipes per square mile of freeway, that to step out onto the porch of the house at which we were staying in order to breathe that light in was just about as energizing a thing as I think it's possible to do. I don't know if that would continue were I to live out there, and I don't think it's a thing I'm ever likely to learn, but it was interesting to note the effect of environment on a part of my personality that I have considered inconsolably intractable all of my life.

So I wonder, did you have the same type of experience (not with mornings in particular, knowing you to be an early riser by habit if not by nature) with the environment out there? Has it changed some part of you that has surprised you?

At 5:19 PM , Blogger meeegan said...

Unfortunately, SoCal's air quality can't compare with NoCal's. Near the ocean the air tends to be better than it is inland, so I have that advantage. On the other hand, I live less than a mile from two of the biggest ports in the world, and they are absolute smog gushers.

And then there are the freeways. I can say with authority that SoCal traffic is orders of magnitude worse than Atlanta's. I know you may not be willing to believe that; nevertheless, it's true.

So, in brief, I can admire the sunshine without trusting that the environment is actually good for me.


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