Sunday, August 12, 2012

Summer Sabbath Days


Time here at Freedom Ridge has a different quality. One day slips into another as the season advances almost unnoticed, governed by the needs of people and animals, rather than by the calendar and clock.

Dogs wake us at sunrise, the horses call to one another on their way to the feeder, and cows come down the August green hillsides, loitering outside the corral, ready to be fed.
There is more than enough work to fill the days, and much of it is the work of the sweat of the brow. It is easy to lose track of the date on the calendar. but never the progression of the season, now marked by the explosion of wildflowers watered by the monsoon rains, telling us that fall is in the offing.

In the weekly round of work, there is never routine and one project leads to another,and news from over the mountains and far away comes to us on the invisible airwaves to our radio receivers and sweeps down from satellites to be made solid on our computers. Breaks come from necessary trips to town for supplies, for local news. and to see and speak to familiar human beings.

And for us, each week also progresses towards the Sabbath, which here takes on a timeless quality when the round of work and chores is interrupted and another week is ended with time out of time, marked by ritual and suffused with its own quality of living.

Here, nothing intrudes as it did in the city. The phone does not ring, the computer is not fired up, and the radio is not turned on, as we deliberately turn away from the inexorable march of information, much of which we don’t need any day, but certainly not on Shabbat.

Friday evening, the urgent voices from the outside give way to music, and the cool breeze off the mountains give life to the flames of the Sabbath candles, lit just before sunset, ushering in our own little sanctuary in time. In the morning we feed, we water, but no projects beckon. After a leisurely breakfast, prayer and study are the only agenda. As the heat grows towards afternoon, and windows are opened and closed to catch the breeze and shut out the heat, we appreciate the weekly ritual of the nap on the couches, the leather cool and soft and supportive.

Often I read and doze, choosing more contemplative books, and I gaze out the windows where the dogs snooze, catching a breeze on the porch. The Engineering Geek, guarded by the cats, begins an article in Sky and Telescope, but is soon asleep, and with the regular deep breathing from him and from the animals, I soon join him.

By mid-afternoon we wake slowly, deliciously, and taking out wine and Challah bread, make Kiddush and lunch on hummus and pita and cucumber and tomato. A summer repast, as the clouds build in the southwest, providing cover and a cool breeze that invite a walk and talk, and a sit on the porch swing at the cabin while showers make their music on the metal roofs.

Every week we find different variations on the theme of Shabbat, but the summer Sabbaths have a particular quality of ease and abundance brought about by the long, leisurely trip of the sun from east to west, the heat of the day, and the cool refuge of the porch and the house from the unrelenting light of the desert sun at zenith. It appears as if all of nature around us was only waiting for us to slow down and join with a summer afternoon’s leisurely being, there everyday, but only joined by us once in seven.

As the Sabbath afternoon slides into evening, often accompanied by early evening thunderstorms, we come out of the Shabbat somnolence, kindle light and welcome a new week. As the stars make their appearance and the lightning recedes to the northeast, that is when we catch up on a five year old HBO series, or catch a movie, the only use for our almost antique TV/DVD each week way out here, where the signals are attenuated by the canyons, cables do not reach, and our time filled with other things. 

At dinner, we re-enter the current or ordinary time, stepping in up to our knees, talking of plans for the coming week, laying out the progress on projects and contracts that give forward impetus to the ongoing round of ranch chores that will structure the days of productive work ahead. As eager as we were to leave the stream of ordinary time on Friday evening, so by Saturday night we look forward to returning to it, rested and ready. Another Sabbath replete with blessing now completed.

Shavua tov, we say. May it be a good week, a productive week. May our wealth and happiness increase, and that of the whole world.

No comments: