Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Mudhouse Sabbath

Stephanie here. I just finished reading Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren F. Winner, who I talked about a couple weeks ago in a post on Girl Meets God. I'm 27, but when I'm reading Lauren's books, I have the sensation of, "Oh ... I want to be Lauren when I grow up." (Really, I want to be a combination of Lauren and Ree Drummond aka The Pioneer Woman. What about you?)

I thought Mudhouse Sabbath was wonderful read. Seven years before writing this book, Lauren Winner converted to Christianity from Orthodox Judaism. In this book, she talks about the practices she misses from her Jewish life, the traditions she thinks Christians could learn from.

She talks about a whole variety of spiritual disciplines, including ones that were familiar to me - sabbath, prayer, fasting - and ones that weren't, like mezuzot or "doorposts."

The mezuzah is a small roll of parchment tucked inside a tube or box. On the parchment are fifteen verses from the sixth and eleventh chapters of Deuteronomy, in which the Lord says: "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart ... You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."

Because of these verses, Jews hang mezuzot outside their homes, as well as inside, on the
doorposts of rooms where people live. (Basically, everywhere but the bathroom.)

I'm fascinated by Jewish culture, and whenever I take the time to study it, I find it enriches my understanding of Christianity. But I confess that when I started this chapter on doorposts, I really wasn't sure how Ms. Winner was going to apply this to my life as a Christian.

There were several things in the chapter that stuck with me, but the biggest was this: The mezuzah is a proclamation. It is a visible declaration to all who see it that this is a Jewish household. The people who live here are Jewish, and they are proud of it.

Lauren talks about how there's no Christian equivalent of a mezuzah, but that several years ago, on a door that was being discarded, she found a sign quoting Psalm 121: "The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore." Lauren took the sign, and due to a friend's prompting, posted it on her front door.

Lauren writes:

Every time I come home I see the sign, and I remember that I claim to actually believe in this God who will preserve my going out and coming in, and I remember that this home is supposed to be a Christian home. It is to be a home into which I invite strangers, and in which I organize my time through prayers, and in which I do work that might somehow infinitesimally advance the kingdom of God.

...I also remember the proclamation that I am making to others: the sign tells you that I am a person who is trying to be a Christian, and in telling that to you, I am inviting you to hold me to it.

I haven't put up my own sign or anything, but I have started playing a game. I have started pretending that everyone I interact with - the cashier at Starbucks, my fellow Target shoppers, the solicitor who knocks on my front door - knows I'm a Christian. Like it's stamped on my forehead or something.

I like the awareness this creates within me. Not only an awareness of how I am behaving and if my manners are pleasing to God, but it also makes me conscious of the fact that I am interacting with someone God loves. With someone in whom God has an interest. With someone God cherishes.

Stephanie Morrill is a twenty-something living in Overland Park, Kansas with her husband and two kids. Her only talents are reading, writing, and drinking coffee, so career options were somewhat limited. Fortunately, she discovered a passion for young adult novels and has been writing them ever since. Stephanie is the author of The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series and is currently working on other young adult projects. She enjoys encouraging and teaching teen writers and does so on her blog www.GoTeenWriters.com. To connect with Stephanie and read samples of her books, check out www.StephanieMorrillBooks.com.


Nicole @ Project Inspired said...

I love this post, just lovely. It's so important to remember to have that awareness - and ask myself, am I living a Christian life? Am I expressing the love of Christ and the Lord through my actions? Thanks for the reminder. :)

Emii said...

You know, I really like this -- the whole pretending everyone knows you're a Christian. Because you know how people sort of look at you if they know you're a Christian and watch how you act and stuff? Yeah, well it sort of takes away the excuse to be someone else, since they don't know who you are. I'm going to try this with you!:)

Stephanie Morrill said...

Thanks guys! I love what it's doing inside me :)