02 April: Praxis Journal, Day Two

saying-grace-1951
Norman Rockwell

It’s my second day, and I must admit that I am happy with how I am doing so far – though I am rather wary to do so, pride being one of the seven deadly sins and all.

Let’s start with the challenges and negatives: The hardest practice so far has been not uttering the Divine Name or even thinking it (I don’t know how “normal” this is, but there’s basically always a monologue, dialogue, or full on motley of conversations going on in my brain). I have done so a number of times today – maybe a dozen overall – and each time I cringe and apologize to G – you know who I mean. I have to admit that the practice has caused me to think more deeply and often as I pray, though, as well as enriching my sacred vocabulary. When praying the rosary, for instance, I said, “Holy Mary, mother of the Word…” instead of the usual formula, and, at times I have deemed appropriate in my other prayers, I’ve used “O Merciful One,” “the Most High,” and “the Power,” in addition to the more common “Lord.” Avoiding the common Christian name for the Divine has helped me ponder and appreciate the numerous aspects of the Divine’s benevolence and the ultimate transcendence and unfathomable goodness of this person, the Person.

The other challenging practice has been saying grace after meals. It’s still such a jarring practice for me, especially if I’m with other people and still talking with them after I finish eating. My friends are pretty used to me saying grace to myself before eating, so I assume they’ll be fine with me doing so after eating. It’s really just a matter of me remembering to do it as soon as possible. When I have remembered to do it, it has – as I wrote yesterday – grounded me a bit, given me a bigger perspective on my insanely advantageous position regarding all the food available to me and on all the inanimate objects, plants, animals, and people involved in making it available to me. Even as I sit here writing, I am eating my nightly apple, and now I am suddenly so much more grateful for and amazed by its presence. It is a true miracle, even if (and perhaps because) it’s an everyday, immediately tangible one.

Finally, not texting has been somewhat problematic. I ended up breaking that prohibition twice in order to explain to others that I could not text them back at any point afterward. Now that most everyone knows, however, I think I will be set for the week. I even engaged in an actual, if extremely short, phone conversation today – what a concept!

I have to admit that I am really enjoying this Sabbath observance thus far. I chose the somewhat odd period of 4:30 p.m. today to 4:30 p.m. tomorrow because 1) I am an RA and was on weekend duty last night, keeping me from not working as a result; 2) I am also on regular duty Sundays starting at 4:30, so I could not observe the Sabbath the totality of that day; and 3) Christians accept the Jewish concept of a day beginning at sundown in some sense, allowing vigil masses to be held each Saturday at the earliest time the sun sets in a particular area during the whole year. The last is the reason I can go to mass on Saturdays at 4 p.m. here in Wisconsin and why I feel what I’m doing now still corresponds roughly to a Sabbath, even a Sunday.

For my Sabbath, I am allowing myself to make simple meals (like toast and jelly), wash dishes from said meals, write for this praxis journal (of course), and – yes – even use electricity and heat, unlike some of the stricter Jews in Jacobs’ book. I also am reading All Quiet on the Western Front, even though it’s assigned reading for a class. The way I see it, I have actually wanted to read this book for a long time, so it will be a relaxing and enjoyable experience for me, not an onerous or taxing task. At the same time, I am ensuring that I actively pause (if that makes any sense) and enter into sacred time, the whole point of the Sabbath. I honestly feel much more relaxed than I usually do. Just as Jacobs had to let the world pass him by while locked in his bathroom for four hours (no joke), so I have to let some “urgent” tasks to sit. Both of us are thus given the opportunity to really reflect on our lives and connect with the Divine. Judging from Jacobs’ experience, I look forward to a more peaceful state and a better prayer life. Updates will come tomorrow night on how well this all goes.

Rising at midnight and not mixing meat and dairy both are going swimmingly, so fingers crossed (and prayers raised!) that both continue to do so.

Well, that’s about all I have for this journal entry. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s, and, until then, may you feel, accept, and revel in the Source and Essence of Love.*

*Just trying to avoid saying the G-word. Sorry for any confusion!

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