Monday, September 7th, 2015
THANKS OLIVER SACKS
Oliver Sacks died this past week. Oddly, I haven’t read a lot of his books. He was Professor of Neurology at NYU and wrote books about his clinical practice.
He recently finished his memoir, On the Move. I did read an article of his that stuck with me. It was about the Sabbath.
I spent the day, yesterday on the front porch in total quiet. That, in itself, is a miracle, given the car repair garage across the street and a house guest and a frequent and welcome granddaughter visit. The quiet had that poignant feel of Summer sliding into Fall. The window box flowers were having their last fling at freshness. Everything was poised in an in between moment. Hushed and achingly (not an overblown phrase here) perfect.
I picked up a magazine and read Oliver Sacks’ comments about the Sabbath.
He had not been an observant Jew for years but was visiting a cousin. He had finished his memoir and had been told shortly after that he was dying of cancer.
No reprieve. He went to Sabbath at his cousin’s home.
The peace of the Sabbath, of a stopped world, a time outside of time, was palpable, infused everything, and I found myself drenched with wistfulness, something akin to nostalgia.
He goes on to say more about the Sabbath as his death grows closer:
I find my thought, increasingly, not on the supernatural or spiritual, but on what is meant by living a good and worthwhile life—achieving a sense of peace within oneself. I find my thought drifting to the Sabbath, the day of rest, the seventh day of the week, and perhaps the seventh day of one’s life as well, when one can feel that one’s work is done, and one may, in good conscience, rest.
That is the tone of the moment I had on my front porch. An intimation.