Friday, April 18, 2008

Mike: Response to Rami's 4-18 Post

In my own defense, I had best explain myself. Growing up on a farm, I often wandered for hours alongside the creek that flowed through our property. At some point, I began fashioning speeches (as well as short stories, but that's another tale for another day). I would develop, give, then rework each speech as I walked. Looking back, I now know I was doing the work of a writer and speaker: casting a first draft, revising it, trying on the revision, revising again, and the like. In the process, I found a kind of renewal, something I needed rather badly during my childhood years. We might even say the time spent alone functioned as a kind of Sabbath for me.

Now, back to the Fourth Commandment itself! Rami's comments on chaos, ordering words, laying down "our notions of surety, order, certainty, and security," and living "one day in the unknown and unknowable which is the Presence of God" strike me as true. I love the image of surfing chaos. Surfers know better than to try and control waves. Joy comes in riding the wave as it is.

Much of the time we need a community to help us practice Sabbath in this fashion. Face facts. Almost nothing in our culture or daily life encourages us to surf chaos. Instead, we're told we need to take charge and make the world be what we want it to be. In short, we're taught to try to be God, or at least a kind of god. The longer we follow such a path, the more weary we become. The task is impossible, and we are not made for it anyway. Sabbath recalls us to our senses, reminds us of who and what we are, and encourages us to rest in God. It helps to be surrounded by others who share the experience.

Still, let's not underestimate the potential of a private Sabbath. Go back to my boyhood days. My childhood environment, left unchallenged, would have shaped me in unhealthy ways. The time I spent in retreat provided rest, time to think rather than do, and opportunity to remember who and what I was (as opposed to what the environment tried to impose on me). When the time came to walk back from the creek and into my "daily life," I returned better able to surf chaos.

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