All dressed up with no place to go (or, how to Sabbath with a baby)

The title refers to Zora, not me. I’m still living in pajamas (project for next week: figure out what clothes I fit in!) Zora is well dressed (I was too curious to wait for a better occasion to try this little outfit on her), but not for church.

zorasundaybest.jpgI originally thought that by today we would make it back to church. But, older and wiser family members have pointed out how tired I actually am, Erik keeps reminding me that I did have major surgery (and, as my Mom said, it’s on equipment I might want to use again, so I need to make sure it heals as well as possible). So, we are at home for the day again. Probably a wise choice, considering that I have yet to walk more than 2 blocks.

I’m thinking about the idea of Sabbath today, and especially of Sabbath with a newborn. Most days this week have been the same. What would make today different? I’m a big advocate of the idea of Sabbathing, making Sunday (or, for clergy-types, another designated day off) differently devoted than any other day. But I myself don’t Sabbath very well. It’s a pattern I haven’t quite worked out yet. Do I stay home, go for long walks, stay away from any forms of commerce, read the Bible, be with family, eat a good sit-down meal, eat less, exercise, take naps, pray? What works best for the setting I’m in, the job that I do, etc.
And now a baby adds a whole new dimension. This morning, I’m thinking about what Sabbath will mean with Zora. Many of the ideas developed around Sabbath seem completely impractical with a newborn. Eugene Peterson’s long walks and picnics? Considering Zora’s reaction to the Baby Bjorn carrier yesterday, I don’t think we’ll be doing that anytime soon. A strict interpretation of “no work”? Sounds great to me, but Zora absolutely had to have that bath this morning, and right now I would probably attack anyone who tried to argue that breastfeeding is not work. Not to mention diapers. I’m wondering if too much of the thought about what it means to Sabbath has been developed by men who, by design, are much more capable of being physically detached from the needs of infants.
Eventually, Zora won’t be a newborn anymore, Erik and I will figure out what on earth we are doing, we’ll manage to get to church (next week is my new goal), and we’ll start to figure out what Sabbath means for our family.

For now, I am rolling around these quotes about spirituality and life with a newborn:

Living with an infant is an intense retreat with the power of breaking down the ego, opening the heart to the way things actually are, allowing the whole self to be present for a mystery unfolding. And the mystery unfolds with lightening speed, leaving new parents with a sense that every moment is a bit of cosmic foam tossed up by the waves of the universe, to be taken in right now, or lost forever…Parenting an infant can call us out of ourselves, into a different, more caring and connected way of being in the world.

Mary Wellemeyer

O Lord, my heart is not lifted up,
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvellous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.
O Israel, hope in the Lord
from this time on and for evermore.

Psalm 131

* Yes, I know she’s not weaned, but I’ll take the feminine imagery I can find!

Thy holy wings, O Savior, spread gently o’er me
And let me rest securely through good and ill in thee,
Oh, be my strength and portion, my rock and hiding place,
And let my ev’ry moment be lived within thy grace.

Oh let me nestle near thee, within thy downy breast
Where I will find sweet comfort and peace within thy nest,
Oh close thy wings around me and keep me safely there,
For I am but a newborn and need thy tender care.

Oh, wash me in the waters of Noah’s cleansing flood.
Give me a willing spirit, a heart both clean and good,
Oh take into thy keeping thy children great and small,
And while we sweetly slumber, enfold us one and all.

– From the hymn “Thy Holy Wings,” Carolina Sandell-Berg (1,3) & Gracia Grindal (2)