when the sun sets
you will find me
and needing to sit veiled and apart
you will find me, love
breathing deep into my shallow chest
finding ways to digest all of my revelations
finding ways to best indulge in a silence
i have not stolen
but must enjoy in secret.
oh it will be so welcome when it gets here,
the pause in the week,
it will be so welcome.
i keep the sabbath. although, in a world where TGIF is the general consensus for different reasons to my own, it is a very difficult pocket of time to ‘keep’. i mean it does not feel like it is mine. i mean i feel like it is a privilege i must explain and justify every time i attempt to escape into this rest. it is getting harder to guard the sabbath as i am expected to, invited to. i am squeezing it in, finding corners of friday sundown to saturday sundown to rest in Yah. also, the sun sets at varying times so i cannot tell work that i need friday nights off and saturdays off because it is never directly the same time that i’d request. in winter the sun can set as early as 3.30pm and in summers 10pm and there is a scale of time in between that. also, i need to eat. i don’t want to be jobless because this part of Babylon doesn’t respect/recognise/know about the ways that i need to serve God.
all i need is peace. a pocket of time for renewal.
why i keep the sabbath
a massive part of my growth has been the way that i meet with God. i have grown up in church. my great-grandad founded a church in brixton and my memory of south london as a child was always associated with cocoa butter smelling aunties, church hats, drums, tambourines, sporadic shoutings, tears mid-worship, sunday dinner, confiscated Nintendo DS games, sunday school and play scheme during summer. but i was always very aware that sunday was not the set-apart day that i read about in Exodus. i was also very aware that noone had a confident answer when i would bring this up. and so years later, my university experience distanced me from traditions i didn’t understand and drew me closer to a faith that represented what i felt called into, what aligned me with the routine of the natural world rather than the social calendar.
a few shabbats ago, it was a little warmer in the day and i allowed myself wander a little more freely. i went for a walk. with my camera. not really sure where i was going, just that i needed time to breathe and think freely, outside of routine. i stumbled across a baptist church that i was trying to document. it took a while for my mind to realise that this church was open on a saturday, rather than a sunday. this was a seventh day adventist service, which i was always equally curious and sceptical of. i went in, in unironed culottes and my favourite baggy jumper which i had to keep pulling up to soften the deep V-cut. i was greeted, given a load of leaflets that i am yet to read about explaining what the denomination is about and my number was taken down (thankfully, i am yet to receive the text messages because boy. y’all know).
things i missed about being in a congregation:
- the shabbat for me is currently quite personal and introspective (which i am open to changing should the right congregation show up in birms?) so it is always nice to have echoes around me. echoes of children being shushed, the worship team, whispering stewards
- amens being used to mean other things, to speak to people across the church hall, to agree, to soften a chuckle
- pastel colours and pin-up hairstyles on afro hair
- caribbean accents mixed into the accent of wherever i am residing
- the initial unfamiliarity of life outside of God when church finishes
- a sea of raised hands
- bent pages in bibles
things i could not miss, not ever:
- the judgement. the emphasis on what my outerwear suggests about my personhood. not all churches are like this, i know that. i attended a lovely church in Ealing which welcomed all, sunday best or jeans and hoody. i just think there is always that individual or underlining monitoring of people and their business.
- flicking through bible scriptures and verses without context or historicity
- whitewashed understanding of scripture.
- pretending the above does not upset and that God does not understand this
i guess a part of the seventh day adventist church is focus on natural ways of healing and nurturing the body that Yah has provided. Someone called Dr. Chidi spoke about ways to reverse hyper blood pressure and bowel cancer, i think. it was helpful and interesting to have this feature in church. he came to spill all of the secrets of the milk industry and the thousands of pounds offered to him to stop speaking against the ‘health benefits’ of milk. when i slipped out, my new friend Evan ran after me and we spoke a little bit about this. he has an accent that takes me ages to place. he is a Jamaican man, raised in wales and his accent tells this story. he tells me about his struggle as a boy and how his body failed him so, in a period when veganism wasn’t a common word, he decided to cut out all meat and dairy and healed himself. we talk until it gets colder than it was and i head home, completely proud and accomplished in this shabbat’s learnings and meetings.
this is what it means to keep the shabbat for me. sometimes taking random walks and meeting new people, sometimes only having the night after my friday shift to thank Yah for all i have to be grateful for, sometimes being at work at the sun’s setting and having to breathe out a few prayers quietly, sometimes phone calls discussing scripture with my mum, sometimes spending extra time journalling. always having cooked and cleaned before shabbat, always putting aside secular music, minimalising social media use. i’m trying to always always make it be about reading over scripture, pen in hand, getting back to basics for a fresh week.
wishing you the freshest of weeks, hoping you show up for the time set aside you were designed to have. rest well and be restored
in Yahuah’s name.
Amara Amaryah x
thank you for reading what i write.