Sugar Cane Sabbath
March 20, 2017
by Judy Palpant
"In observing the Sabbath one is both giving a gift to God and imitating him." - Lauren F. Winner, "Mudhouse Sabbath"
Sugar cane-sweet, juicy. Anyone familiar with the taste will salivate at the mention of the word. During our years in Kenya, a fresh stalk of sugar cane trumped all other treats as far as our children were concerned. Eagerly they watched us cut away the tough outer layer with a sharp knife. Then we hacked it into 12-inch segments and passed them each a piece. Off they'd run outdoors to eat it-ripping off a chunk with their teeth. They sucked out the sweetness, swallowing the juice and spitting out the fibers. Then they'd take another "chaw." Even now as adults in the U.S., no candy bar compares.
On our recent trip to Kenya, the subject of sugar cane surfaced as we rode with our friend Solomon. "Saturday is my Sabbath," he said, "I always eat a stick of sugar cane." He pulled his car off the dirt road and stopped. Opening his car door, he walked towards a man standing beside his bike. It was loaded with long stalks of sugar cane. We watched him negotiate the price. Soon he returned with his Sabbath-treasure.
Now we knew one of Solomon's Sabbath secrets. I imagined the mere thought of this stalk of sugar cane helped him cope with the multitude of demands he faced day in and day out in his ministry. He knew there would be time on Saturday to sit and stare, to be.
On his Sabbath, I pictured him retiring to his veranda or garden where he sat down on a low three-legged stool. Slowly, he savored the sugar cane, extracting the juice and the joy--discarding the dry, remaining fibers. In this simplicity of time and place, stress and strain fell from his shoulders. Gradually rest, release and renewal made room for quiet prayer.
While his taste buds relished the sweetness, his soul's taste buds savored the goodness of God.