a little something extra

Sunday, October 28, 2007

the last Sabbath post

It's been a long time. The Sabbath book has gotten buried in the pile on my desk, been unearthed again, fallen off the desk a couple of times... I would say it's definitely time to put this project to bed.

Muller's final chapter is called "Leaving Sabbath Time." In it, he refers to the ritual conclusion of the Jewish sabbath, a ceremony called Havdalah. At Havdalah, a cup of spices is passed around whatever group or family is gathered. The spices serve to perfume the air, what Muller refers to as the "fragrance of rest." Since our sense of smell is so closely tied to our emotions, it's wise to use aroma to trigger and connect with feelings.

Here, the intended effect of the ritual and the fragrance is to create a smooth path down which one can figuratively walk, emerging from the protected time of sabbath into the working week. As the fragrance lingers, so does the physical and emotional sensation of rest that we can carry into our working days.

As many of you know, there were big wildfires this past week in southern California. None of them were near where I lived, but I could see the smoke and smell it at my workplace. Monday was terrible -- extremely hot and dry from the Santana winds, a bad day to have to live in a sensitive skin -- but Tuesday and Wednesday were really the worst times for the smoke. I sneezed and coughed in my office all day long, and my voice was gravelly and awful.

Thursday I had taken the day off, making up some time I had spent at work the previous weekend. That day the desert winds had tapered down and the air was noticeably clearer. And every once in a while, in my apartment two blocks from the beach, I was able to smell the salt of the sea again instead of just smelling smoke.

Now it's near the end of the weekend and the salt fragrance hangs readily in the air. It will be some time yet before our atmosphere is really clear, but our eyes are no longer smarting, and leaving the windows open no longer invites Dust Bowl-sized drifts to form in the corners of the sills.

It would be really nice to have time for a Sabbath nap this afternoon. But I have a commitment in the evening, and a ton of music prep to do before that. So I think it's time to eat something before I sit down at the (musical) keyboard and get to work, while the salty air washes around me.


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