Now that that is out of the way, I’ve been thinking about the Shmita year. At the Clark household we’re practicing keeping it 2014-2015. I know some debate when to keep the Shmita (Sabbath year), wondering if you start counting from when you acquired the property, do years of rest prior count, etc., but the way we see it God’s design was a single Sabbath year kept by His people. So we just keep it when the common Hebrew calendar indicates.
But we’re in a quandry since even in a good year our garden has not yet been sufficient to provide a full year’s sustenance, let alone two or three as God promises. I can meditate on how that is the case, after all God promises the blessing before the year arrives, but I’m not hung up on it. If God hasn’t provided the blessing than I wager he’s merciful to however best we look to keep his mitzvah.
But I have been thinking about the why. One answer that comes to me is that Yah’s people are not united and that the blessing was promised to a people in covenant and obedience, which we lack. Some might suggest its because this isn’t the promised land, but I would point out (as I do in my WIP) that Yah judged heathens for defiling a land that had not yet been given to Israel, among other points of rebuttal.
But another thought came to me recently. Our garden insufficient garden, I frankly imagine is the norm for most of us, who end up relying on the professional farmers. But is that a problem if our inability to provide for ourselves as a people pushes us to rely on those who don’t keep Yah’s ways?
If that’s not the ideal situation then our ability to obey is in many ways tied to our planning. Makes sense of that little word in many mitzvot, ‘observe’. Yah doesn’t just want us to do or not do, but to be observant, to look for the chance to obey. An inclination that asks, “How can I keep this?”
Thinking this way, I reflect on all the times a feast day has ‘snuck up’ on me. Or I find myself in a place thinking, “Isn’t there a command about this?” And after the fact, I’ll find myself having missed something. It occurs to me that many of the ‘surprises’ come about because I’m driving along my life when suddenly, I see a sign that says, “God this way —>”.
It’s hard to make the turn because I wasn’t looking for it.
Suppose I had a garden of sufficient size, with a bountiful harvest. Would I have had the foresight to put away the excess or would I blow it in a big shindig or say, I have more than I can use and not worry about storing at all? I don’t know, but I get the sense it would have been something like that.
It occurs to me that many of the commandments are hard to keep because our lives have been built without them in mind. We have ‘our lives’ that we live, and then a commandment comes up that is outside of our normal life and so its hard to keep it. A friend once told me about an service member he was coaching for profanity in a training environment. And my friend told his subordinate that it looked like the he/she was “trying to maintain two vocabularies,” one for home and friends to be ‘cool’ and one for work to be professional. That the problem was this duality and not the difficulty of the standard.
Is God asking us something hard? Or is it that our whole lives have been built without Him? Are we meant to rush for that quick turn? Or is God calling us to change lanes a couple miles back because His place was the destination instead of the rest stop?