She is delighted with herself, and it goes without saying, we are delighted with her. Learning to count is one of those basic skills of the Western preschooler. Not only does it set the foundation for early math, but it helps them to navigate the world of parental demands. "You can watch two episodes of Bubble Guppies, and then the TV goes off" or maybe "I will count to three, and if your shoes still aren't on, you will go straight to a time out."
But I sometimes wonder if we are teaching our children to count the right things. In our society, numbers are important because, with them, we count money, possessions, years. We count the number of times we've moved and the cost of a new car and how many miles we have to accrue before we can go to Hawaii.
Numbers give us the tools to assess our world. Nothing wrong with that. But do we teach our children to count most the things that are important to God? Do we number the tangible and thus give it weight, and leave the intangible to the breeze and thus render it inconsequential?
The Sabbath teaches us to count what's real.
Wayne Muller tells this story, in his book "Sabbath."
My friend Janie was visiting the home of an old potter at Santa Clara pueblo. She was admiring the enormous collection of pots her host had on display throughout his home. "How many do you have?" my friend innocently inquired. Her host lowered his eyes. "We do not count such things," he replied quietly.Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)
During Sabbath, we stop counting. How do we count friendship or laughter? How do we count the value of honesty, or bread from the oven? How can we count the sunrise, the trusting clasp of a child's hand, a melody, a tear, a lover's touch? So many truly precious things grow only in the soil of time; and we can only begin to know their value when we stop counting.
During Sabbath, things that grow in time are honored at least as much as those things we would buy and sell. At rest, we can take deeper measure of our true wealth. If we do not rest, if we do not taste and eat and serve and teach and pray and give thanks and do all those things that grow only in time, we will become more impoverished than we will ever know.