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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sunday Afternoon

There is something sacred about Sunday afternoon. I feel justified if not duty bound to take a nap. Or perhaps stroll through the yard, ride a bike, rock in a rocking chair, read for no reason but because I want to. I don't know how much of this is cultural and how much is tied to Sunday being my family's traditional "seventh day" (though it is technically the first) set apart for God and family. It seems there is a stillness that can settle over me if I let it. It is beyond me yet it favors me if I pay attention.

If it's rainy, I nap longer, read longer, fix a cup of tea, watch a movie I've been wanting to watch, pull out old picture albums, read old letters, write new ones, listen to the quiet. If it's pretty out, I can enjoy the day from the window or tiptoe out (or propel myself deliriously into the outdoors if so inclined) and flirt with nature and find my inner child again. Now I can shut this Sunday afternoon stillness up at will. I can run about in a frenzy if I choose. I can get all tied up in knots about Monday or any other potential need for concern.

The Jewish custom of Sabbath has its own fervor for stillness as a springboard for restoration. Everything is a purposeful frenzy on Fridays so that all preparation can be made for twenty-four hours of this sacred stillness. By sundown Friday evening, the meal is ready, the family is gathered, the Mama lights candles and covers her eyes to shut out the work she just left behind, like shutting a door. She waves the light of the candle back toward her heart and then prays the Hebrew Sabbath prayer. In essence, she thanks God for "commanding" her family to stop work (not a grievous commandment) and enjoy a time of feasting, fun, and rest. Then the Papa of the home thanks God for giving us power to get bread from the earth and for the fruit of the vine, recognizing how dependent we are upon that basic process of seedtime and harvest and how it really does come from His blessed provision.

You know, if we remove worrisome concern for religious propriety and truly enjoy that "seventh day" of the week, reveling in our Maker’s great loving-kindnesses, big and small, we just might find ourselves thanking Him for commanding this Sabbath rest. And if in that process we each wake up a childlikeness inside ourselves, we have found step one to entering the Kingdom of Heaven.

Matthew 18:2-5 ...Jesus called over a child, whom he stood in the middle of the room, and said, "I'm telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you're not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God's kingdom. –The Message Bible