Sunday, August 6, 2017

Sunday Morning, Sabbath Morning

The first part of the eighteen mile bike ride, we are accompanied by a slight head wind. When this happens, I endure and look forward to the tail wind on the ride home. A good tail wind, whether I'm on a bike or in a kayak is a pleasure; a head wind is not. Tony sees a head wind as a better work out; I consider it the enemy.

As we near the farthest point in our ride, Tony mentions a shift in the wind.

"It's going to be a strong head wind going home."

It's such a beast of a head wind, I shift to level 5 power and don't look back. Tony who stays ahead of me easily in windless conditions is nowhere to be seen, but it's so miserable, I keep going. I just want this ride to be over.

Thank goodness tomorrow is a day of rest, I think, and I don't have to bike or exercise.

And so it goes, one of the top blessings of observing the sabbath is a day to rest from exercise. Sometimes, on Saturdays I push extra hard and long since the next day I can literally rest my body.

Eliminating exercise from the Sabbath routine has always been easy, but other choices have not been. I've often justified doing school work because I consider it service to my students. Now that I'm taking my own classes and the reading load is so heavy, I've also justified reading on Sunday to keep up.

There are no specific dos and don'ts in keeping the sabbath. These decisions are personal and family made. Tony brought certain sabbath traditions from his family to our marriage. Watching television and swimming were taboo.  It doesn't mean that as a teenager, he wouldn't keep his toe on the on/off button trying to sneak in a little Sunday afternoon football.  My sabbath upbringing meant a family day. This doesn't mean as a teenager I wouldn't argue with my parents to do otherwise, and sometimes they gave in. We still went to Baskin-Robbins after church; we watched Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom and 60 Minutes on Sunday night. We often ordered take-out from Macayo Vegas. This was taboo for Tony, so over the years our practices aligned for OUR family.

Recently, I had a change of perspective about the sabbath when my friend shared an experience with her son. He'd received a blessing, and in that blessing, he was admonished to stay as close to the Lord's side as possible, for there he would find his greatest blessings; it was where the angels reside.

The blessing struck my heart. Yes, the blessing was specifically for her son, but couldn't it be for me too? I too wanted to be as close as possible to the Lord's side, so I could reside where the angels were.

As I pondered this blessing, I realized I'd have to make changes to be on the blessed end of the heavenly spectrum, and one of those changes would be in my sabbath day practices.

I'd had some really good examples. The first one was Tony, who in the three and a half years it took him to earn his masters degree and his doctorate, never studied on Sunday. My daughter who also has a PHD had followed her father's example and had always made her Sunday study free. As I contemplated the possibilities, I started to get excited, quite opposite of what I'd anticipated. Instead of sacrifice, I saw opportunity. I saw all the pleasure-books I don't have time to read and as I cleaned up my study, I stacked those books for Sunday reading. One my nightstand the latest Newberry winner, The Guns of August, and a book about the Iranian hostage crisis, are all waiting. One of my greatest pleasures, I'll be enjoying once again.

I found that on Saturday night, instead of wasting it with television or perusing the internet, I buckled down and read as many historical documents as I could, because like my exercise, I deserved a day off.

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. It was not instituted as a day of punishment, but as a day of freedom, instituted by a loving God who understood the necessity of rest, refreshment, and rejuvenation. A day to set aside regular habits, a day to treat ourselves, a reward for hard work.

I think I finally understand the spirit of the sabbath.  I'm most excited to push myself to find if there's really a place where the angels reside.

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