As I walked out to greet the sun this morning, the song from the play, Flower Drum Song: “Sunday, Sweet Sunday” came to mind and I began to sing it to God. “Sunday, sweet Sunday, my one day with you….” I thought about the whole idea of the Sabbath after a week of work and about Quakers who call Sunday “First Day” because they figure every day is the Sabbath. For them, we should have God consciousness every day all day. That is the ideal, but I think the Hebrews understood that it isn’t the reality. They decided it was a good idea to set aside at least one day to stop the whirlwind and let God come in. Muslims in middle eastern countries hear prayers broadcasted at certain times of the day to remind people to turn their thoughts to God. Christians in the middle ages did the same with Church bells. A Christian farmer would stop in the midst of his plowing to pray the Angeles. I really like the Quaker idea but I appreciate the other ways people have come up with to bring their thoughts back to God.
Why is it that it is such a struggle to think about our Higher Power? What are we thinking about when we aren’t conscious of the divine? I suppose it is about ego, I don’t know. I just know that I myself I need reminders, mind-interrupters to pull me back. Any time I come back, for me, that is a Sabbath moment. It can happen in many more ways than setting aside a day of the week or ringing a bell.
Once, when I was walking a trail through the woods with my dog, Ginger, an owl swooped down almost hitting me in the head. I woke up. The thoughts in my head, whatever they might have been, were suddenly gone. That was a Sabbath moment.
Another time, I was driving a back road south of Alexandria after visiting with some friends and suddenly the sky lit up in multiple hues wrapped around voluminous clouds. I pulled off the road and sat there in awe and appreciation. That was a Sabbath moment.
Once I was sitting with a grandchild who was chattering as a child does and he reached up and put his two little hands on my face and turned it toward his so that we were almost nose to nose. Suddenly my ears opened to what he’d been saying. That was a Sabbath moment.
I was doing a project at the Morrison County jail…recording inmates’ reading books to their children. One young man started telling me his story. He’d killed a man and was awaiting trial that would send him to prison. He was guilt for what he’d done, but in this moment, his deep sadness was about what his action was doing to his relationship with his only child. He was a rapper and asked if he could sing into recorder for his child. So I let him do it and listened as he did so. That was a Sabbath moment.
Walking out to the mailbox one day, I noticed the trees in a new way as I passed them by. It was what Dorothy of Oz experienced when the trees with faces started to throw apples at her. But my trees didn’t throw anything, they just smiled and thanked me for the carbon dioxide and I thanked them for the oxygen. Another Sabbath moment.
It seems that as the years have come and gone, Sabbath moments are increasing and string together filling more and more of my earth-time. I think this is the kingdom that Jesus talked about. Right here, right now.