Occasional thoughts of an Anglican Episcopal priest

Summer and Sabbath

In about two hours I will be headed for Cleveland-Hopkins Airport to get on a flight to Newark and thence to Edinburgh. Checking email, Facebook, etc. before packing up the laptop, I found that a friend forwarded me an email from a United Methodist board of some sort containing two delightful quotations about summer and sabbath. The summer thought is from John Lubbock:

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time.”

I had no idea who John Lubbock was, although I now know that I certainly should have. He was a Victoria era banker with many side interests, and the First Baron Avebury. He also was a good friend of Charles Darwin, whose hometown of Shrewsbury, Shropshire, I will be visiting in just under two weeks. Wikipedia has an extensive article about John Lubbock which includes this information:

In 1865 Lubbock published what was possibly the most influential archaeological text book of the 19th century, Pre-historic times, as illustrated by ancient remains, and the manners and customs of modern savages. He invented the terms Palaeolithic and Neolithic to denote the Old and New Stone Ages respectively. More notably, he introduced a Darwinian view of human nature and development. “What was new was Lubbock’s… insistence that, as a result of natural selection, human groups had become different from each other, not only culturally, but also in their biological capacities to utilize culture.”

Lubbock complained in the preface about Charles Lyell:

“Note.—In his celebrated work on the Antiquity of Man, Sir Charles Lyell has made much use of my earlier articles in the Natural History Review, frequently, indeed, extracting whole sentences verbatim, or nearly so. But as he has in these cases omitted to mention the source from which his quotations were derived, my readers might naturally think that I had taken very unjustifiable liberties with the work of the eminent geologist. A reference to the respective dates will, however, protect me from any such inference. The statement made by Sir Charles Lyell, in a note to page 11 of his work, that my article on the Danish Shell-mounds was published after Ms sheets were written, is an inadvertence, regretted, I have reason to believe, as much by its author as it is by me.” Preface to Pre-historic times.

Lubbock was also an amateur biologist of some distinction, writing books on hymenoptera (Ants, Bees and Wasps: a record of observations on the habits of the social hymenoptera. Kegan Paul, London; New York: Appleton, 1884.), on insect sense organs and development, on the intelligence of animals, and on other natural history topics. He was a member of the famous X Club founded by T.H. Huxley to promote the growth of science in Britain. He discovered that ants were sensitive to the ultraviolet range of the spectrum. The Punch verse of 1882 captured him perfectly:

How doth the Banking Busy Bee
Improve his shining Hours?
By studying on Bank Holidays
Strange insects and Wild Flowers!

Apparently, Mr. Lubbock’s time spent lying on the summer grass was not wasted. I hope that mine spent, in part, walking through the summer hills of Scotland, England, Wales, and Ireland will likewise not be a waste of time. And in that vein is the second quotation in my friend’s United Methodist email, a prayer for sabbath:

Sabbath God, in this season of long days and long daylight, we are grateful to be alive. Give us the wisdom to pause from our hectic routines and enjoy the simple things of this time of year. Let us live easily for a time, putting away watches and looking away from clocks, ignoring all the things that need to be moved, fixed or cleaned. Let us lose ourselves in the bounty of the earth you created. May this be a time of rest, refreshment and renewal. May we be calm enough and quiet enough to perceive your presence. Let us not fill all our time with endless activity.

The email says that this is prayer is “based on a prayer composed by Ted Loder in his book, My Heart in My Mouth.” I also didn’t know who Ted Loder is. It turns out he is another blogging clergy person. The profile on his blog says, “The Reverend Dr. Loder is a retired United Methodist minister who served as Senior Pastor for 38 years at Philadelphia, PA’s First United Methodist Church of Germantown (FUMCOG), which became well known around the country for its dynamic worship and preaching as well as its urban involvement and prophetic social action. He was named one of America’s most creative preachers. He has published several books of prayers, sermons and commentary including Guerrillas of Grace and Loaves, Fishes and Leftovers.” The header on his blog reads, “Stay Watchful – God is Sneaky.” I shall have to read this fellow….

As I fold up this laptop, stow it in my backpack, and start loading my bags into the car for the trip to the airport, my prayer is one petition in particular in the Rev. Dr. Loder’s prayer, “May this be a time of rest, refreshment and renewal.” Amen!

1 Comment

  1. Kim Kelly

    Wishing you safe travels and a blest and restful time. Looking forward to following your journeys for the next 3 months.

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