Historical marker, Washington, NH

I don’t know much about the Seventh-day Adventist Church, but I’ve been to the site in Washington, NH of their first church. From what I gather, the original Seventh-Day Adventists were a group of believers who kept Saturday (the seventh day) as a day of rest and who believed that Christ’s second coming was imminent. The group of believers who gathered in Washington, NH in April, 1842 consisted of a group of Sabbath-keepers and a Methodist minister who held the “Advent hope” that Christ would return in 1843, a year that later Seventh-day Adventists euphemistically term the Great Disappointment. Today, Seventh-day Adventists are known for their clean-living and low-cholesterol, often vegetarian diet: Dr. John Kellogg, in fact, was a Seventh-day Adventist, so that bowl of breakfast cereal might save both your body and your soul.

Seventh-day Adventist Church, Washington, NH

Regardless of what Seventh-day Adventists actually believe, I have to admire a group of believers who have persevered in their “Advent hope” despite Great Disappointment after Great Disappointment. Although the Seventh-day Adventists have, I presume, stopped trying to pinpoint the precise date of the Second Coming, it can’t be easy living amongst people who act as if The Boss is never returning from vacation and who insist on burning their proverbial candles at every conceivable end. In theory at least, I like the notion of taking one day a week to rest: given America’s prevailing Protestant work ethic, Sabbath-keeping is entirely countercultural, a practical way of demonstrating one’s faith that some things other than work Matter. And the notion of keeping an Advent hope is also, in theory, completely appealing: who wouldn’t want to live their life with the hope that God hasn’t completely abandoned the world to mundane evil, that there is a happy ending coming someday, and even someday soon?

Seventh-day Adventist Church, Washington, NH

Whenever I’ve visited (on weekdays) the Seventh-day Adventist church in Washington, NH, I’ve marvelled that it is still standing and still active. What use does the modern world have for a quiet church tucked along a quiet country road? Ours is a world of movers and shakers, not a world of quietly hopeful Sabbath-takers. There is, technically speaking, neither a time nor a place for Advent hope nor for Sabbath-keeping in our fast-paced, technological world: who needs Miracles when we have Medicine, or Rest when we have Red Bull? Behind the Seventh-day Adventist church in Washington, NH lies a shady, easy-to-overlook Sabbath trail that wends through quiet, forgotten woods. The purpose of this trail, studded as it is with stones bearing Bible verses, each with an accompanying bench to allow for private meditation, is to trace the history of the Sabbath from creation to modern times. In my experience, though, the trail is simply a marvelous place to go birding, those benches allowing ample opportunity to listen to black-throated blue warblers, red-breasted nuthatches, and downy woodpeckers in relative comfort.

Buddhists aren’t generally Sabbath-takers: the mundane schedule of monks and monastics goes on seven days a week. This being said, though, I wasn’t born Buddhist; to the contrary, I seem to have a bit of Sabbath-keeping in my blood, my Italian maiden name (DiSabato) meaning “of Saturday” or “of the Sabbath.” So although I have no plans to convert to Seventh-day Adventism or anything else, I think I might take a page from my Washington neighbors’ playbook: why not take one day a week to rest and re-fill, a conscious day to do nothing? From the inception of this blog, I’ve tried, unofficially, to write everyday with an occasional unplanned day off; now I’m wondering, though, if taking an official, planned Sabbath from blog-keeping is a productive practice, a structured way of re-filling the well. Taking a cue, then, from both my maiden name and the Seventh-day Sabbath-keepers, I took yesterday, Saturday, off from blogging, and I think I’ll try that awhile to see how it fits.