Every man must look after his own soul; you can’t lay it down at another man’s door like a foundling

chapel

A time and place in between

“…every man must look after his own soul; you can’t lay it down at another man’s door like a foundling, and expect him to take care of it; and don’t you see, if you are always sitting on your box waiting for a fare, they will say, ‘If we don’t take him, some one else will, and he does not look for any Sunday.’ Of course they don’t go to the bottom of it, or they would see if they never came for a cab it would be no use your standing there; but people don’t always like to go to the bottom of things; it may not be convenient to do it; but if you Sunday drivers would all strike for a day of rest, the thing would be done.”

by Anna Sewell (30 March 1820 – 25 April 1878)
from Black Beauty (November 24, 1877)
Part III – The Sunday Cab
image – tibchris

The Sunday Cab

Here, Anna Sewell is advocating for giving horses a day off. In the 1800’s, cabs were drawn by horses, and the horses were worked, hard, seven days a week. Sewell wrote Black Beauty to publicize the plight of working horses, but it’s not much of a stretch to think she was hinting that the same need for rest applies to people.

In my life I’ve known a very few people with strict ideas of how much should not be done on a Sabbath. One family laughed about having food prepared ahead of time for weekend dinner parties, explaining that they still served their grandparents’ Sabbath recipes though customs were no longer as strict. For them, a day of rest and reverence was a relaxed meal with friends, made only from food that was cooked the day before. No “working” on a Sabbath meant they had some of the most relaxed weekend dinner parties you could imagine.

Another group I knew had a tradition of hosting work parties for community projects, often with a big potluck after. Out of necessity, food preparation was done the day before, or some was storebought on the way into worship. Dishwashing for large gatherings was a mother bear made bearable by sharing the load. Cooperative work and good company made everything better.

Both of these examples required some planning and follow-through – looking after our own souls. The emphasis was on wellbeing and being in it together, and the energy of it spilled over into other days of the week. The day before was a warmup, and the day after got a boost from the afterglow – not always, but often. In both cases, nobody was sitting alone at a computer trying to finish one more thing, and we were out of our daily grind. We left that place where we “always sitting… waiting for a fare.”

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