Sunday, May 9, 2010

alternatives to church (2)

I thought I remembered a book by stormie omartian that came out some decade or so ago, but the internet isn't backing me up, so it's obviously by someone else. but when I was at buns & noodles and in charge of the religion section, I used to reliably see a book cover of a title something like "what to do when your husband doesn't believe." the cover had a drawing of a man mowing the lawn and the presumption was that he was doing this instead of, say, going to church on a sunday morning. I remember my wife noticing it once and saying of it, "she's lucky her husband mows the lawn on sunday."

that's in my head today because I opted not to go to church but to stay at home and mow the lawn instead. this has got me thinking, of course, because it's the sabbath, or the day I regularly celebrate as the sabbath (as well as its being mother's day), and my practice is to do as little as possible on the sabbath. but here I am, sweetly smelly and sweaty with the odor of cut grass and dandelions and a trifle burnt from the sun, and feeling very, very good about it.

this has been a long, eventful week, and it has rained a lot, so the grass has gotten tall and I like to keep it at a length at which I can see things in my path. that's not to say I couldn't wait until tomorrow, presuming it doesn't rain, to mow, or later in the week for that matter. but I opt to mow on this day not in spite of the sabbath but because of it. I'm as in favor as the next guy of keeping my sabbath idle, but work is a holy activity too. when I am teaching or listening to someone or planting or walking dogs or mowing I am taking an active part in the universe, thanking it by paying attention to it. zen masters say that when one mows the lawn, one should mow with one's whole being. well, they should say that.

but when I am doing something as trivial as mowing and I am in my groove, it is an act as delightful to reality and god as any words of contrition or praise. I am in the place I ought to be in and doing the thing I ought to do. we must take heed, after all, of jesus when he reminds us "the sabbath was made for people, and not people for the sabbath."

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