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A BOOK SABBATH
June 18, 2007
 
A lassitude overtakes me on a Monday morning after a busy Sunday, a desire to read a book and do little else. Even Morning Prayer is too heavy for my brain to lift, and I abbreviate it disgracefully. I will try again at noonday.

To escape into a world of someone else's creating and live there for a few hours -- I've been doing that a lot lately, and have emerged from each book so full of the beauty in which I have soaked myself that all I want is more and more. Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns is even better than The Kite Runner, I think. Or maybe not: I'm not sure I want to run a contest there. Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay makes me want to read The Yiddish Policemen's Union, his newest. Dara Sobel's The Planets offers beauty of a different sort, the kind that happens when a fine writer turns to describing what actually is, not what she dreams up. And now, because I always invade Q's library when I run out of current books, I am reading Middlemarch, which I am better prepared to appreciate than I was when I encountered it as a teenager.

It is summer -- almost. I am lazy. I don't want to write: I want to read. I don't want to make things: I want to consume them, or even only to look at them. The busy energy of autumn makes me productive, but the soft air of summer makes me indolent.

Is this what resting is?

People are always saying I should rest more, but I feel like a slacker when I do. An addicted slacker, moreover, since I don't seem to work very hard to shake my laziness, but revel in it instead.

Frenzies of activity and periods of virtual motionlessness: it doesn't seem very balanced. Shouldn't I just work a little and then read a few pages at night? But I know I could no more do it that way than I could fly: when I am in a book's world, I want to be only there. It has always been so.

My lazy time will pass, if only because obligations will interrupt it. I needn't fear sinking into the quicksand of someone else's words and never again producing any of my own; even now, I am nibbling on my next idea. Perhaps this time of reading and breathing slowly is like the biblical practice of letting a field lie fallow for a season, so that it might regain the strength of its soil. Perhaps it is Sabbath, even if prayer feels like work while I am in it and even if the material of it is consistently secular. For it is certainly true that the originators of the idea of Sabbath drew no distinction between sacred and secular; that is our conceit. To them, everything was sacred.
Copyright © 2018 Barbara Crafton
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