The eighth day

One wonders what God did on the eighth day.

We know that God rested on the seventh day and called it “Holy” which we also know was a word God placed in scriptures very carefully, like placing a ticking bomb down on a table top.  Slowly.  Carefully.  Unsure if even touching it seems the right thing to do.

The word for “Holy” in our scriptures is used infrequently because it is a designation with meaning like “love” or “righteous” or, for that matter, “kind.”  And yet God names the sabbath day – the day of rest – “Holy.”

I am resting on the edge of an island off the coast or Maine –  a place lived in by Rachel Carson, a hero of mine.  A saint, as far as I am concerned.  She lived simply – out of necessity. And just as she was becoming acknowledged for her work she was taken by Cancer, too young.

But I think her life exemplifies the eight day.  Walking. Looking. Writing. Facing the storm of people’s outrage at what she wrote. She is my patron saint.

Most people in our culture, fueled by a desire to have many posessions, much prestige and power, choose to work very hard.  We have coffee at every street corner and we use it to push ourselves harder and harder, longer and longer into work.  And our sabbath day – our day off – our seventh day, is a day we use to recover so that we can begin a new six-day cycle of chores and work. Was the sabbath designed for recovery or for delight?

Sitting here on this island, full as it is of stunning coastline and beautiful gardens like this one, I am aware that after rest, God wondered because rest made that possible.  I do not mean the American “wonder” – the verb.  I mean the spiritual wonder; the noun.

On the eight day, after a day of rest, God wondered – God observed the creation and was able to be pleased with what God saw.  This is not in “the book” but it is what the Jews would call Midrash.

Might not it be possible that by extending the creation story by one more day, we could see what can be possible after rest and re-creation?  Might it be that when you and I make the time to rest, we are able to see our lives and our planet with fresh eyes? With eyes which can experience the noun “wonder?”

Wonder plays a central role in Rachel Carson’s book for children. Actually it is a book for adults – a book to inspire them to help their children to wonder at what beauty exists around them.  But before we are able to wonder, we need to have rested.

“Come unto me all who labor and are heavy-laden and I will give you rest.”  says Jesus.

We religious spend so much time on the seven days of the creation myth that we never stop to wonder what the eighth day might have looked like. God could have made more. More planets of more beauty.  More species – better than the humans we see in our evening news each night.  But God decided on enough and then rested so that the next work could begin – the work of loving what God made, rather than making more of it.

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