Do not let Sunday be taken from you.
If your soul has no Sunday, it becomes an orphan.
When I was a little kid, Sundays had a very different rhythm from every other day of the week. The day started with a different breakfast. We had cold cereal with milk and bananas. Every other day of the week we had eggs and toast. Putting boxes of cereal on the dining room table was less work for my mom than frying eggs, and Sunday was supposed to be a day of rest.
After breakfast we went to Sunday school and church. We got home from church about noon. Then my mom set aside the “minimize work rule” for an hour or so and fixed us a big Sunday dinner. After dinner my dad read the newspaper until he dozed off, my mom read a novel, and my brother and I went outside to play baseball or football or cowboys. If it was rainy we stayed inside and played Monopoly or checkers. Sometimes we’d watch an old movie on TV. Occasionally the family all went to Lake Mills to visit my cousins for a couple hours, but we had to be sure to be back in time for my dad to milk the cows and for the rest of us to go to evening church. Basically, Sunday afternoon was a slow-paced time, a time to relax, a time to play, a time that was totally care free. (We didn’t even do school work!)
When I was a little older, my mom and I would sometimes go for a walk down our country road for an hour or so before supper. We’d look at the wildflowers and listen to the birds singing. One of the things we talked about was how she spent her Sunday afternoons when she was young. Her parents were quite strict about not working on Sundays. She wasn’t allowed to use a scissors because that was considered work. Often her friends from church would come over to the farm to play baseball and her mother would make root beer for everyone.
When Mim and I lived in Chicago, we usually went to church Sunday morning and tried to do fun, relaxing things in the afternoon. For several years we had season tickets to a piano concert series at Orchestra Hall. Another favorite place to spend the afternoon was visiting with the animals at the Lincoln Park Zoo. On nice summer days we biked along the lakefront. When we were in grad school, studying and working often tried to barge in and take over quiet Sundays. After a while, we’d miss the relaxing time and resolve to take back our Sundays, with mixed results.
Since moving to Wisconsin 21 years ago, we have struggled to keep Sundays as a day to relax. When we had a bed and breakfast, we worked harder on Sundays than any other day of the week. Recently I realized that Sundays have again become the busiest day of the week for me. I usually play the organ in church in the morning, and in the afternoon I often work on writing something for my Monday blog post (as I’m doing right now). I’ve talked about designating another day of the week as my “Sabbath” but have never been able to be successful in implementing the practice.
As Maya Angelou said in Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now:
Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.
So … I’ve decided to change my blogging day from Monday to Tuesday. Effective next week, my new blog entry will be posted by late morning on TUESDAY. Hopefully, this change will help me reclaim Sunday afternoons as a time to relax, to be care free.
Over the past sixty years our culture has drastically changed its attitude toward Sundays. The routine of going to church and having a quiet afternoon is just one way of spending the day. For many people, Sunday is a day for shopping. (When I was a kid, stores were closed on Sundays; shopping wasn’t an option.) For some people watching sports on TV is the favorite way to spend the afternoon. For others Sunday is a day to catch up on housework or yard work. Sunday still has a rhythm that is different from the other days of the week – even if the day is no longer a day of rest, it may be a day “in which no problems are confronted.”
Setting aside one day a week as a special day has Biblical origins.
Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Work six days and do everything you need to do. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to God, your God. Don’t do any work – not you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your servant, nor your maid, nor your animals, not even the foreign guest visiting in your town. For in six days God made Heaven, Earth, and sea, and everything in them, he rested on the seventh day. Therefore God blessed the Sabbath day, he set it apart as a holy day.
[Exodus 20:8-11 The Message]
Personally, I’ve decided to try to reclaim the Sunday of my childhood. I don’t think I can convince my brother Danny to play Monopoly with me, but I’m pretty sure my partner Mim will take a walk with me down our country road. Writing this blog, as well as most other things that try to creep into Sunday, can wait till tomorrow.