On Sunday, Paul and I, exhausted from the week and staying up late Saturday night, overslept. The girls still wanted to go to church. We tried to rush, but had to pick up Elsa, who had stayed the night with a friend, and subsequently missed all services.

This is not uncommon.

When we do make it to church (usually at least 15 minutes late), I find myself going through the motions and intimacy with God is never really reached.

Check. Good bride. I did what I was supposed to. Ho-hum.

Sex is better. I look forward to it more and avoid it less. But, my lack of preparation tends to put a damper on the mood. Paul could say that our foreplay often looks like this (Barry White, please!):

Then we’re in the bathroom
Brushing our teeth
That’s all part of the foreplay
I love foreplay
A-sshga-sshga, a-sshga-sshga, a-shhga-sshgaow!
Then you sort out the recycling
That isn’t part of the foreplay process but it’s still very important

Next thing you know we’re in the bedroom
You’re wearing that baggy, old, ugly t-shirt
you got from your work several years ago
Mm, you know the one, baby
With the curry stain
Aaa-oow-ah

(Courtesy of Jemaine, Flight of the Concords)

Paul, being in the mood, and seeing I’m not, will often hum “It’s Business Time,” lightly making fun of my subtle or overt signals that it’s not happening.

Anyway. During another attack of insomnia, I recognized I’ve been avoiding intimacy (more with God … but I’m sure Paul won’t be upset if I make the transfer). My day of rest has all kinds of walls up. There isn’t any intimacy happening. There is no inviting look in my eyes. For me, it is more natural to duck, hide, avoid, oversleep, dawdle, overwork, do good works … anything but be with God.

Why would anyone wish to avoid such ecstasy? Am I more Artemis than Aphrodite? Would I rather hunt than love? And what is eleven minutes? I waste chunks of time like that everyday.

Do we all avoid intimacy?

It may have to do with control — a surrendering of the mind and body to another. The body is easier. The mind is the tougher opponent. It will do its own thing. Yet, we’re supposed to capture every thought.

Sometimes I feel that all of God’s advances are falling on deaf ears, hardened soil, an overworked, stressed-out bride. I elude Him in the deep forests of problems and life. I hear His call and disappear into the night. I want to dominate my world as a huntress. Are there whispered vows of abstinence in my heart? With the moon overhead, and my maidens all around me, do I mysteriously avoid intimacy, killing whoever dares to look upon me?

Sex and worship have always gone hand-in-hand, perverted in pagan temples, sanctified in the hearts of saints.

What is needed is preparation.

I looked up the traditional Shabbat observances. They are telling. Notice the parallels. Preparing for Shabbat is like a bride preparing for her husband’s homecoming.

Before Shabbat begins, one should bathe, have a haircut, and clean and beautify the home with flowers. Wear festive clothes (no baggy T-shirts with curry stains).

The traditional Sabbath starts at sundown, so you spend the day preparing for the next day. It’s tilling the soil. Getting ready for receiving.

On the Sabbath, refrain from unpleasant conversation. Avoid talking about money or business matters.

Say a blessing over a cup of wine. Eat delicious homemade food. And remember to say blessings (good, cheerful, inviting words).

Enjoy the time. Engage in pleasurable activities such as eating, singing, spending time with family, and yes,

sex.

All this is usually done, concluding at nightfall, over a cup of wine, and with the use of fragrant spices and a candle.

It’s a recipe for romance.

My lack of preparation is causing me to miss so much.

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