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It Must Be Sunday

January 14, 2013

DSCN0636Last year, we could always tell what day was Sunday.  Of course, Sunday was marked as the one day of the week we all ate breakfast together, usually a special breakfast like pancakes, waffles, french toast, my mom’s chocolate chip coffee cake.  Either Curtis or I had the chance to sleep in.  And, every Sunday morning, our daughter would complain about going to church

Madeleine is not one who complains quietly.  Madeleine’s complaints tend to be loud and dramatic, with lots of yelling, peppered with eye rolling and crying.  Sunday mornings were no different.  Sunday morning complaints were over having to wear special clothes to church, versus clothes that weren’t even nice for school.  Sunday morning complaints were about church shoes being too sparkly or not sparkly enough.  Sunday morning complaints were about going to children’s choir or not going to children’s choir.  Sunday morning complaints were about not being able to do whatever Madeleine pleased.  Some mornings, we put her in the car half dressed.  One morning, we left her standing in our driveway wearing not very much and drove around the block, hoping she’d be more ready for church when we got back.  She wasn’t.

Curtis and I would just look at each other and say, “It must be Sunday.”

Lest you worry too much, Madeleine’s grown up a lot in the past year.  Towards the end of the summer she began acolyting.  I sighed a lot that first time I lit her candle wand and sent her down the short aisle in the chapel.  Now, Madeleine willingly gets ready for church and the week she complains (like last week) is a rarity.

Now it’s me.

I don’t complain about going to church.  I like church a great deal.  It’s Sunday afternoon.

Several years ago, while reading Barbara Brown Taylor’s Altars in the World, I realized how much we ignore the Sabbath.  I realized how we hold fast to all the other nine commandments, mostly, but that one.  We’ve gotten too busy for the Sabbath.  I decided that I was going to reintroduce the Sabbath to my life.  We eat leftovers for lunch on Sunday and I try to avoid shopping so others don’t need to work on the Sabbath (I know my not shopping won’t prevent others from shopping).  Sunday afternoon, I usually read for a while and take a nap.  Sometimes, I call my mom and talk for awhile.  On the pretty days, I send the kids to the backyard for “quiet time.”  On the not so nice days, the kids play inside and mostly leave me (and Curtis) alone.  Isaac still naps, mostly, which helps.

However, usually by 2:30 or 3:00, I’m saying to myself, “It must be Sunday,” much in the same way we said about Madeleine’s behavior.  By mid afternoon, I start getting anxious.  I’m not prone to anxiety, but on Sundays, anxiety comes.  Something about the stillness of not doing much, of not having agenda, of thinking….makes me anxious.  I start worrying about things.  I try to solve the world’s problems.  I have a hard time being still and at peace with being still.

So, by 2:30, I find myself searching for things to do.  This stillness that should be renewing starts to be oppressive.  I need the busy, the to do lists, the chore charts.  I hide behind the busy-ness of normal life.  I wonder has the busy of my life become an “idol”–something that prevents me from loving God with my whole heart, mind, and strength and which prevents me from loving others as myself?  I think it has.  Busy-ness has become a badge.  When have you ever been able to say or have heard somewhere respond, “I’m not busy.  Life is slow.  I have enough  ___________(fill in the blank—time, money, energy?)?”  Never.  Not being busy is not a good thing.  Not being busy means that I am slacker or unproductive or unmotivated or unambitious.  Not being busy is the antithesis of the “American Dream.”

Sunday is a bit of reminder to not be busy for me.  It’s ok to have a day without ambitions or motivations.  It’s ok to not hide behind the busy-ness and build legos with a child, play Uno as family, go for a bike ride, play soccer just for fun, or make an angel food cake for no reason.   Being uncomfortable in the stillness is a good thing, much better than the busy-ness because then, we are challenged with ourselves–with how we love–with how we spend our thoughts.

As I search for something to do, while very conciously trying to not to do anything, I think about my actions a bit more.  Is it work to bake that cake or work on Isaac’s quilt?  Does it matter if it’s work or not?  Or can I find things to do today that allows me to love a bit more freely?  Can I find things to do today that will refresh me so I am ready to love others a bit more eagerly this week?  Can I set aside a bit of holy this afternoon that allows me to recognize that I am a beloved child of God?  For one afternoon, can I be present in where I am right now?   Can I make this moment and this space sacred, recognizing that all moments and spaces are holy ground, if I only I invite God?

It must be Sunday.

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