Tonight I will begin my brand new practice of celebrating the Sabbath. I've observed it in the past, for many years with my family, then for a year after my first initiation into Reclaiming tradition, but always on someone else's terms. Tonight I begin fresh.
What we did in our family was light the candles while singing the prayer to what I have been told is the melody that's supposed to accompany the Chanukah blessing. Oops. We didn't know any better, growing up. After that, Papa took over as rabbi, saying some beautiful things about how to welcome the Sabbath "in joy and peace." He invited us to understand that on the Sabbath, our blessings would be enriched, our griefs and trials softened." It was very cool. Then we blessed the wine and the bread, and had dinner together.
When I was a little kid, my father dressed for the occasion, wearing a suit and tie. We wore nice dresses and came to the table clean and well groomed. I have very fond memories of Friday nights when I was a child.
After my initiation, after I had thrown the Torah in the trash (a long story recounted a few weeks ago here) I decided to make amends by celebrating Shabbat for a year. I kind of made up my own rules, though I said the words my father used to say, lit candles, blessed wine and bread and rested. At the end of the holiday I did the Havdallah service, something we did not do in our family observance.
After a year, I stopped celebrating. I don't know why - it was so nice!
After reading The Sabbath World, I'm inspired to again give it a go. I've asked my sister twice to send me the words my father used at our family service. She has forgotten - twice - so I take that as a sign that I'm supposed to start from scratch, kind of like I have done with my clothing this summer.
So far, I have only two rules - that I will spend the Sabbath with people I love dearly, and that I will eat well, drink wine and celebrate life. My focus will be to imagine the possibility of a profound and lasting peace - the shalom that is engraved on my arm.
Tonight one of my dearest and nearest Hill neighbor families is coming to help launch the practice. I'm going to make a simple dinner, enjoy their beautiful daughter and both of the parents, too. I'm thinking: love fest. Yeah.
It's OK to let the practice develop from the inside out, or so says Judith Shulevitz who wrote the book The Sabbath World. I'm excited and curious to see how it turns out.
Shabbat shalom, y'all.