Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sun Day

It’s raining again today, the third day in a row. We needed the rain, but things are getting soggy—too soggy to load up the back of my friend’s pickup with horse manure for her garden, which was the scheduled plan.

Sunday’s still a day I like to kick back, especially in the morning, which retains the aura of sanctity hardwired into me from my days as an altar boy. It may be a 24/7 world out here in cyberspace, but back on the farm we breathe in the eternal holiness that surrounds us, from the mountains and meadows to the ever-expanding edges of the universe, a holiness especially rich on Sunday morning, for me. Out here, we’re still living in the Big Bang. And if you pay attention, you can feel the reverberations in your breath.

Around six, I take the dogs for a walk down the little country lane up above the house. That’s when they like to get up, and on the weekends, I want to give Nancy the opportunity to sleep in. After they eat, the dogs join her in bed until it’s time to go visit the horses, their usual routine. I head for my desk, where I sit slackjawed for a couple of hours staring at a glowing box, trying to make sense of what happened yesterday in the Matrix.

The routine creates its own rhythm, which the dogs themselves are attuned to, even though it’s a human invention. They are exquisitely aware of any activity involving food, and since they get an egg on Sunday morning (for their coats, Nancy says), I can already see the Sunday light in their eyes, even as they’re bustling around waiting for me to open the door to our walk.

The rhythm of creation, human and divine, is of course incorporated in scripture in the concept of the Sabbath, the seventh day, when God rested. In the early years of imperial Christianity, they moved the sabbath to Sunday, ostensibly to celebrate the mythic resurrection of Jesus, but also to remove any taint of Judaism attached to its traditional celebration on Saturday.

I like the fact that we still recognize the sanctity of time (in a culture marked by what ecologist Jerry Mander calls “the absence of the sacred”) by keeping every day named after a god, from those old perennials the Sun and Moon, to the Roman god Saturn—the god who himself rules time and the sign Capricorn. The old man; Jupiter’s father. He’s such a stern old cuss, that it’s like a big joke that his name has been attached from the beginning to having a great old Dionysian time, from “Saturnalia” to “Saturday Night Fever.” The secret is in the hedonist’s mantra—“Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we may die!” Saturn, the Grim Reaper.

So that’s another reason to enjoy a quiet Sunday morning—to recover from the hangover from the night before.

The basic concept of the Sabbath is a principle we need to revive, if we are going to rescue the Earth from its 24/7 assault. In the Old Testament, the land is supposed to lie fallow every seventh year, so that it may rest from the work of providing human sustenance with regular cultivation. Any “volunteer” production from last year’s garden is to be given to the poor. This principle is also behind the biblical idea of the “Jubilee Year” every 49 years (7X7), when slaves are freed and all debts are forgiven. People are trying to revive the idea of the Jubilee today, to relieve the crushing bank debt of the Third World.

As much as I’d like to encourage the idea of resting on the Sabbath, however, I have to go clean house. See you on Moon Day.

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