17 August 2013

Two Words

--for Heather on our anniversary

It is a beautiful Friday morning. As I walk the dog, I pass a short, thin man with a long, full beard who smiles at me and says, “Good morning.” He is wearing all black, save for a plain white collar shirt under his blazer. Atop his head: a large, broad-brimmed hat.

And there are two other splashes of white, swinging freely just below the hem on the left and right sides of his blazer: tassels.

Almost every Friday now, I pass my friendly Jewish neighbor on this stretch of sidewalk just one street over from our home. He and his family are new to the neighborhood and I find myself looking forward to his greeting every week.

He seems joyful to me. After I pass him, I wonder if he feels especially joyful today because at sunset he will say Kiddush and begin the Sabbath.

Even though it is still early, I find myself wishing him Shabbat shalom. And as I turn that phrase over in my heart, I find myself thinking of you.

When I am with you, I have a sense of shalom. And when I am with you, I am at rest. I know I should reserve such a holy phrase for God, but I suppose God will not begrudge me recognizing and naming his presence in you. So, I think of you—of the Christ in you—and I say, “Shabbat shalom.”

Every year we pick a word and turn it over in the soil of our hearts. Over the years, we have chosen words like…


This year I cannot choose only one word because one comes with the other: Shabbat shalom. Like you-and-me or me-and-you.

Later today we will make our way out of town for a special celebration: tomorrow is our anniversary. You will read this then.

But know that,
like our friendly Jewish neighbor,
I was smiling the morning before,
thinking of you,
preparing myself for you and only you—
anticipating prayer, lighting the candles—
one for the past, and one for the future
(Remember and Observe),
gratitude and hope.

the present:
a feast,
and rest.

waking Saturday morning
to Shabbat shalom
with you,

because of you.

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