First, let me make clear that this is not an April Fool’s Day joke.
Second, let me make clear what this whole thing is. I was assigned to read from The Year of Living Biblically by A. J. Jacobs, a chronicle of the author’s attempts to live out the commands of the Bible as fully – and, often, literally – as possible. From this book and Jacob’s quest, we had to pick out five religious commands and observe them for seven days, writing a short reflection on this observance each day. All the while, we have to refrain from using social media, including texting. I don’t consider writing on this blog as social media, mainly because 1) I consider this me writing into the void of the Internet for the purpose of writing, not for likes or fame (though I certainly wouldn’t mind if you liked my posts or paid me to write them) and 2) it gives me great material for spiritual and theological writing, which happen to be what this blog is all about!
I started observing these five practices at about 12 p.m. today, Friday, 01 April. Thus, I will end my observance of them around the same time next week Friday, 08 April.
The ban on social media isn’t much more than an annoyance (though I must admit I don’t like the addition of texting to the banned activities; ah, well) since I only use Facebook and Snapchat with any regularity. At any rate, it will force me to actually call, physically meet and talk with, write a letter to, or even just email people I need to contact other than simply text them.
Now, for the five practices I chose from The Year of Living Biblically (cue imaginary drumroll):
- I will not eat meat with dairy at the same meal, with a separation of at least three hours between the two. I will also not eat pork. (I kind of count the not-eating-pork thing as another practice in conjunction with 5., since that one only last for 24 hours).
- I will rise every night for the next seven nights to praise the Divine.
- Notice how I didn’t use the usual name for the Divine in 2.? I also won’t be using that common three-letter word or the tetragrammaton for the next seven days out of reverence for it.
- I will say thanksgiving after meals in addition to the grace/thanksgiving I usually say before them.
- I will observe the Sabbath from roughly 4 p.m. on Saturday, 2 April (tomorrow) to roughly 4 p.m. on Sunday, 3 April. More on that tomorrow night and the night after that, when I have actually observed (or failed to observe) the day of rest, as well as why I chose this specific time period.
I chose these laws because they present a mix of relatively easy and challenging obstacles to me. On the easy list: rising at midnight to pray (I keep a pretty regular prayer schedule, anyway) and the dairy-meat separation (I went vegetarian for Lent, so I can have cheese without a burger and vice versa). One the challenging list: not uttering the Divine Name (I’m not one to use OM you-know-what at all, but I do often say the Name in my prayer), saying thanksgiving after meals (more on that below), and observing the Sabbath (I am a workaholic, to put it mildly). You’ll get to keep up with how well or how awfully I observe all of these over the next week. Let’s hope it’s mostly enjoyable for all of us! Now to think about today:
So far, I’ve been doing pretty well at everything except saying grace after meals. It’s such a new practice and one so opposite to the pre-meal thanksgiving I always perform that it just slips my mind. However, after performing it much later than I originally should have, I have the same feeling as Jacobs did in his book: more gratitude for the fact that I have food at all, a more thoughtful approach to eating in the future, and a higher awareness of where my food comes from (though that is sometimes unsettling, given how much processing so much of our food goes through and the environmentally harmful practices often used in that processing).
These rules are definitely making me think more, and I consider that a positive development overall. From the vantage point of today, I think these next seven days will aid my spiritual life by shaking my routine up a bit and causing me to step outside of my comfort zone. As I’ve learned, it is often only when we are uncomfortable – at least a little – that we are really able to reach out to the Other and grow.
Well, that’s about it for my reflection today. It’s time to do some homework (workaholic, remember?) and then get ready for sleep, something that I, as a stereotypical college student, can never get enough of. Until tomorrow, reader(s), go with God! ~