Weekly Message from T. J.

Rest for the Wary

I started my morning with a little peek at the weather. With the on-again, off-again rain we’ve been having the last day or so, I wondered what might be brewing in the skies. And like a lot of us, I saw the colored bands of two different storm systems on the approach in the coming days. I’ve written before about the importance of being able to talk about the weather. But here, the weather, when it departs from what most of us are used to most of the time, is simply more interesting than in a lot of other places.

Closing out the month of July, many of us have reflected in worship, in small groups, or in our own hearts about adventure. For some of us it means travel. For some of us it means a deeper search of the caverns of our own being, our own lives. And between the alternating arms of rainfall and sunshine, the churn of whirlwind over the oceans around us, I can’t help but think of adventure’s companion: sabbath.

This is just such an old word. Its origin is from the Hebrew language: sabat. When the Greeks had their say on the subject, they added just one “b” to make it sabbat. And the Romans, maybe unsure what to do, added an “-um” for sabbatum. Was the language pausing to think about what to do with such a perfect word? In the end did it choose only to add the “um” on its lips? And just to make its mark, the English language simply moves an “h” from one spot to another in the word in its contemporary Hebrew: Shabbat -> (carry the h) -> sabbath. There are other words as undisturbed by the world and its empires, but not many as fitting.

Of course, I am playing a game here. The original Hebrew language didn’t use the alphabet we are using (though the word “alphabet” comes from eliding the first two letters of the Hebrew alphabet: alef and bet). So maybe more important than how these changes are rendered in writing is how they fall upon the ear. Other than the Latin pause to add an –um, the adventure this word has taken over millennia has left it mostly unchanged in how it is heard, how it is intoned. Mostly it has remained peaceably undisturbed.

I am told that the systems gathering over the ocean to our east will move south of these lands. I am told that we should only have an uptick in wet weather and some great waves for surfing. And as much as this is a land of so much adventure for so many, I wonder amid the soaking rains and roughening surf what this land can tell us about rest, about peace, about what it means to withstand empires, the wash of a strange tongue, and the peace that comes most when it is felt amid the storm.

May it be so. And please be watchful and safe, my friends.

Rev. T. J.

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