30 April, 2007

Sabbath 21: Sensuality and Delight

Sabbath 21: Tripp's post, Megan's post.

Muller waxes rhapsodic this week about our sensual connection to re-creation. He starts by asking a great question: let's assume, for just a minute, that you're ready for Sabbath. You've actually turned off all the electronic gadgets, cleared your calendar, etc. What do you do to enjoy the day?

He then points out that the Jewish Sabbath ritual is wonderfully sensual--the sight and scent of candles, the taste of familiar favorite foods, soft cushions to rest on. Muller then goes into some detail about the sensual delights of physical affection, points out that the Talmud decrees that a husband's (ahem) obligations to his wife should be performed on the Sabbath, and quotes the Song of Solomon.... And then, his suggested exercise is......

Go for a walk. Barefoot. Indulge your senses.

Ha! A suggested Sabbath exercise of "now go enjoy the sensuality of taking a cold shower" might have been funnier. But I guess you just can't be a pastor and write a book that suggests that people go have sex. At least not one that suggests that you enjoy it.

(if you're getting mad at me right now, you go take a cold shower.)

First, to the exercise: I'm not much of an outdoorsy type, to start with. And my spouse has said several times that her idea of roughing it on vacation is a hotel that doesn't offer room service. It's not that I dislike nature, or that I don't spend time outside. But I'm usually indoors, or I'm outside with running shoes on, or I'm walking my dog, who seems to prefer sidewalks to grass. It's been a long time since I took off my shoes and stepped onto the earth (or the grass), as if I was stepping onto holy ground.

So I did. Fearing only briefly for stickers and chiggers and random dog poo and other suburban terrors, I went out for a walk, imagining that I was Moses, being told to take off my shoes and step into the presence of God... and I was surprised by the hair-raising holiness of those few minutes. No, it wasn't the feel of the grass and the dirt, or that there was a bush in my backyard that was on fire (but not consumed).

Muller touches on something true--we are sensual people. In my worship tradition, the engagement of the senses is an essential part of the sacraments of the church. We feel the splash of cold water, the touch of another hand, catch the scent of healing oil, taste the wine of the thanksgiving feast. These things provide moments, specific times and places, when we can be opened to the presence of God. And without the engagement of the senses, worship becomes an intellectual exercise, easily untethered from its original purpose and left to roam.

28 April, 2007

sabbath 20 extra: cartoons!

As promised, here are some of my recent cartoons.

Harvey does several teaching techniques to get our little linear brains out into cartoonland. We do pictures from squiggles, compound words (e.g., "bull-frog") and charaters out of letters or numbers (which I think he's calling alpha-pics). Anyway, here are some examples:

23 April, 2007

Sabbath 20: The Tyranny of Choice

Sabbath 20: Megan's post, Tripp's post

Here's my summary of Wayne's chapter (quoting him, as we read through the chapter):
(1) sometimes it is necessary to stop one thing so that another can begin
(2) What if we hear these [sabbath] prohibitions with different ears? What if...these teachings are...a useful boundary that keeps out things that would do us harm?
(3) freedom of choice can suffocate us; we drown in a sea of options.
(4) sabbath restrictions on work and activity actually create a space of great freedom; without these self-imposed restrictions, we may never be truly free.

My summary differs a little from Megan's; not that I think she's wrong, but Muller poked her in a sore spot this week and her response is appropriate.

My life's analogy to Muller's point this week is what it's like for me to tell my young son that he needs a nap. (We've almost, but not completely, outgrown the afternoon nap stage.) Some days, especially weekends when we're going full speed at some series of activities, he gets cranky. He almost always reacts the same way to my suggested nap: with an explosive negative response. I know a nap will help, he'll feel better, he'll enjoy the rest of the day, so I make him go rest. Lie down, I tell him, but you don't have to sleep.

Yes, sometimes I'm grumpy myself when I send him off to his room, but the point is that it's to help teach him that when he's tired, if he rests, he'll be better able to enjoy things.

* * * * * * *

Muller's suggested exercise is one that only tangentially touches on the chapter: do something creative and fun and refreshing daily. Some small thing. Snip a flower, tear a picture of something you enjoy out of a magazine and keep it with you to look at it during the day, sing, draw, dance...

I've been looking for a while now for an excuse to talk about one of the odd joys in my life... I'm learning how to draw cartoons.

We have an after-classes enrichment program at our church school, and one of the offerings is called "kid-tooning." The instructor is a fellow named Harvey S. Williams, the creator of a whole "who's who" of cartoon characters, including Bullwinkle, Tony the Tiger, the Trix Rabbit, the Raid Bugs, and a bunch of others. (I'd link you to a web site, but he doesn't have one)

Harvey is a wonderful guy, jovial, enthusiastic, and fun-loving. He loves kids, he loves to draw--it's a great match.

I called him an artist one time, and he corrected me--"I'm a cartoonist." Maybe that's why I've loved drawing with him, and why I never learned how to draw myself. I always wanted things to look right, for the perspective to work, for the lines to meet, for the shading to make sense. I never doodled in the margins of my homework, because it never looked right--I did geometrical shapes and patterns instead.

Ah, but if it's a cartoon, it's supposed to be a little silly. Bullwinkle doesn't look like a real moose, right? The funnier, the better. There are still rules on what works and what doesn't, but they're inherently flexible. Harvey's constantly telling his students, "you can't mess up. It's just different, that's all. Or, if you don't like it, start over. No big deal."

Here's where I really need to learn more about blogger software, and take the time to scan some of my drawings and put them up here. To do that, I gotta go borrow a scanner, and... okay, okay, I'll figure out how to do it, so you can see my silly frogs and camels and roly-poly bears. Real soon now...

17 April, 2007

Sabbath extra: Easter break

I've been recently chastised for lack of Sabbath posts, and lack of explanation. mea culpa.

The Three Amigos (or whatever we're calling ourselves) decided to take a few weeks off for Palm Sunday, Easter, and the week following. We'll return to your regularly-scheduled programming next Sunday.