This blog is not primary about my faith, but my faith is woven into my life. I sometimes write about celebrating Shabbat so I thought I’d begin this post by sharing a little bit about why I celebrate it though I am not Jewish before I move on to describe my day.
As I wrote a couple of days ago, Hebrew is a language of deep meaning so I can’t help learning about life and faith as I study grammar and vocabulary. When I first began to study Hebrew, I also learned more about the Jewishness of Jesus (or Yeshua in Hebrew), and the Hebraic perspective of the Bible, and I began to meet Jewish people who also loved their Messiah. These Jewish people–several of them Biblical scholars and teachers and all of them people who love to study–taught me and my family a lot and eventually we began to understand the deep meaning of the Feasts described in the Bible. We began to celebrate them, recognizing the deep and rich meanings they had to teach us. Such teachings deepened my faith. One Jewish friend answered my tons of questions about Shabbat until I finally understood that it is not the legalistic day that I had been taught it was, but a wonderful restful day of delighting in G-d, family, and nature. It begins with a beautiful candlelight dinner on Friday evening and ends with a small ceremony on Saturday evening called Havdalah. Hatikva.org describe the Havdalah ceremony this way:
At the conclusion of the Sabbath or any Biblical festival, a ceremony for the close of the ‘holy’ day is observed and prayers are said for the coming week. This ceremony is known as Havdalah, which means separation; a time to separate the holy from the mundane. The ceremony uses all five senses: taste, sight, smell, hearing, and touch, to convey the message of the benevolence of G-d and our relationship to Him. The elements of the Havdalah include a wine goblet filled with wine, a jar of spices, a braided candle, and a saucer or plate on which these elements are placed.
During the Havdalah ceremony a special braided candle with several wicks is used. In Hebrew theHavdalah candle is called a lapidot, a plural Hebrew work for torches. The candle is lit, the room being dark, and the appropriate blessing is recited. The candle is then passed in front of each present who extend their hand toward the flame. The candle must pass close enough for each to feel its warmth. The fingers are spread to allow the rays of light to pass through the fingers. Possibly the prophet Habakkuk was referring to this ceremony when speaking of the coming of the Messiah. (For a description of the ceremony and prayers, click here: Havdalah.)
In between the beginning and ending of Shabbat, we relax and enjoy ourselves without feeling any guilt about things not done. I always try to get everything ready beforehand so I can do as little work as possible. We spend time together on Saturday studying and discussing scripture. It’s a wonderful day that we look forward to every week.
This morning while we were studying, one of EJ’s sisters called so we paused so EJ could chat with her since he hasn’t talked to her for a while. She said that she is hoping to visit us in a week or so. That will be nice. This sister has had cancer, and I heard EJ tell her that JJ is very tired and ask her how long it took her to recover from cancer. EJ’s sister said it took her a year or more to recover. I have reminded JJ many times that Chemo and his several surgeries have assaulted his body in major ways so it will take time to recover, and I have told him that a friend who has been struggling with cancer told me that her doctor said that recovery is long and slow, but JJ gets impatient at times, feeling that life is passing him by and he should be back to normal by now. I figure it doesn’t hurt to have multiple people telling him that recovery isn’t going to happen overnight.
While EJ was talking to his sister, JJ suddenly pointed to the window and said to me, “Come look! Nature is happening!” So I went over to the window and I saw a spider crawling along the window sill. I do not like spiders and if they are in the house, I usually kill them. If they are on me, I do the “GET IT OFF!!” dance first and then if I can find them after I’ve frantically brushed them off me, I kill them. I especially hate spiders that resemble little tarantulas. However, this was a Daddy-long-legs, which is not as scary and is not harmful. It was quite large and had long delicate legs which it moved gracefully. One “leg” appeared much longer than the others and the spider used it to feel its path ahead. It was fascinating. JJ and I watched it together for several minutes. Then JJ asked me to open the window and let it out so the cats couldn’t find and kill it. So I carefully opened the screen and then used an envelope JJ handed me to gently push it outside. It stayed outside the window for quite some time. After watching it for a bit more, we both went to our laptops to figure out exactly what it was and to learn about it. We all love to learn about things. EJ and I have always felt that small common everyday things–like birds, flowers, insects, animals, places, tasks, people–are not really common at all. Instead, they are beautiful, amazing, interesting, fascinating, wondrous. One of my favorite poems is by Elizabeth Barrett Browning:
We always tried to teach JJ to also see beauty in everyday things. I think it’s sad that too often adults come to the place where “There is for me no wonder more, except to wonder where my wonder went and why my wonder all is spent.” (Pilgrimage, Zenna Henderson). I love it when I see that JJ has not lost his sense of wonder. One of my fond memories is when I came across a praying mantis while Danny and I were walking a few years ago. I called JJ with my cellphone: “Do you want to come see the HUGEST PRAYING MANTIS that I have ever seen?” He was 16 or 17 years old at the time. He said he wanted to see it so I told him my location, he jumped in the car and drove to where I was, and we stood together at the side of the road admiring the praying mantis.
Anyway, after JJ and I watched the spider for a bit, we both went to our computers to research exactly what it was. We learned the “spider” is actually called a “Harvestman” and is not really a spider at all. Spiders have two parts to their bodies and multiple eyes while a Harvestman has one body part, two eyes, and very long legs. I read at the website Backyard Nature that Harvestmen often gather, linking legs together. Isn’t that interesting? I also read that “If you watch one eat, notice how after each meal it draws its legs one at a time through its jaws, cleaning them.” When EJ got off the phone, he joined us and we all three watched the Harvestman. Then I said, “Oh, look! He is cleaning his legs just like I read they do! Wow! That’s AMAZING!”
EJ said he was really proud of me for not killing the Harvestman. I said, “I am going to name him Fred.” “Now, don’t go naming him,” EJ said. I replied “I have to name him…because he is my friend.” It’s easy to kill an insect that is an invader in my house, but it’s impossible to kill a Harvestman named Fred.
This brings up a memory of when JJ was quite young. A lot of the neighbor kids would hang out here and one day I found them in my garden happily killing worms. A creepy-crawly in my house is on my turf, but they are on their own turf outdoors and I didn’t want them killed. So I exclaimed in dismay, “Oh, please don’t kill the worms. They are my friends. That one used to be Ernie!” Little voices began to clamor, “Is this worm your friend too?” “Yes!” What’s his name?” and they began to point out various worms: “Is this one your friend?” “What’s his name?” “Who is this one?” “That one is Harry….Bob…Bertha…Agnes….” I said, making up names as quickly as I could. “So don’t hurt any more of them, ok?” They agreed not to. And they never did…because it’s almost impossible to kill things with names.
I will end this post with a picture of Kee-Kee. His newest place to sit now is on my food dehydrators. Silly cat.