When I was a kid, Sundays were special in a simple way.
Sunday was a day of worship first, then rest, with maybe a smattering of visiting friends and relatives on the side.
Businesses were closed except for a few restaurants where you could enjoy Sunday dinner. If you needed milk, you better have run to the store Saturday because you wouldn’t be able to purchase groceries on Sunday.
My family always attended church Sunday mornings and commenced the day by worshiping God, the Creator of our days. After church, my mother either cooked a big dinner, or if it was just Mom, Dad and me, we’d venture to a restaurant for our Sunday meal.
If we stayed home that afternoon, often times my mother would take a well-needed nap and my dad might watch a little television or listen to the baseball game on the radio. I usually curled up somewhere cozy with a book to read. It truly was a day of rest in preparation for the week of busyness to come.
Often times after lunch, visitors would stop by our house. Sometimes they were relatives, sometimes friends and –gasp! –the adults would just sit around the living room talking to one another. The television stayed turned off; there were no electronic gadgets to distract from the conversation. They talked. They shared memories. They caught up with one another’s lives and activities. They remembered and shared funny stories or sad ones. And they truly enjoyed each other’s company.
If we didn’t go visiting, Dad might take us for a Sunday afternoon drive. We would ramble here and there taking in sights, enjoying the sunshine, the fall leaves, the snow glistening on the trees, whatever scenery unfolded in front of us. Our car wasn’t equipped with CD or DVD players, no one had an ipod attached to their ears or a cell phone demanding answers to texts and calls. We either listened to soothing music on the radio, we talked, or we just rode in silence absorbed in our own thoughts.
Often we stopped by someone’s house for a Sunday afternoon visit. The same thing that happened at our house occurred at our friends’ or relatives’ homes as well – the adults chatted the afternoon away while the children played or joined in the conversation.
From all those simple Sundays, I learned many things. I learned that worshiping God came first. I learned that it’s important to spend uninterrupted time with loved ones. I learned that children can acquire a lot of knowledge from their elders. I learned to savor quiet time and rest one day a week. And I learned to be patient.
I miss those days. My husband and I were just discussing this recently. We grow weary during the week and we look forward to simple Sundays. Neither of us works in a profession that requires us to work on that day, so we can do whatever we like.
For us, Sunday morning worship comes first. Then we may rest here in the empty nest. Hubby reads the paper, watches a football game on television, or reads. You can usually find me lounging in my easy chair reading or working a crossword puzzle. Occasionally, we might go for a drive in the surrounding countryside.
This past Sunday we did just that. After church, we ate lunch at a local restaurant followed by a leisurely Sunday drive to a nearby community where some Amish folks live. The day proved lovely with warm sunshine, colors of fall leaves greeting us, and not just a change of scenery, but a change of pace. As we drove along, Amish buggies pulled by trotting horses shared the road with us.
Observing them reminded me of their simple lifestyle and what their Sundays must be like. For the Amish, the Sabbath is a day to worship God and rest, and no doubt, visit friends and neighbors afterwards.
I imagine those buggies full of families tucked inside were on their way to either church or social gatherings.
We noticed children playing in the cornfields while I suspect their elders enjoyed conversations or some well-deserved rest inside their farmhouses.
In that respect I envy them.
It makes me sad that no one stops by our house for a Sunday visit. I suspect if we dropped in at friends’ places, they wouldn’t be home because we all seem to scurry about shopping or finding somewhere to run on Sundays. Plus in today’s world, we may feel as if we’re imposing by stopping at someone’s house uninvited or unannounced.
We find it disheartening that the only Sunday visits we seem to have are the chats with people we run into during a quick trip to the grocery store or Wal-Mart. Visiting in the store aisle just isn’t the same as those warm conversations in a homey, comfortable living room.
I’m sorry to say that the only time we have a bountiful home-cooked Sunday dinner is when our birds come home to roost for a day or so. But distractions worm their way into our Sunday afternoons with the family. Televisions blare, cell phones beep with text messages or blasting ring tones, laptops fire up and are constant companions (I’m just as guilty as my kids on that one!), or people dash in and out with places to go and things to do. We don’t just sit and enjoy one another’s company. It seems Sundays aren’t either simple or special any more.
I’m pondering this question on Page 25, Chapter 10, of my book called Opportunity: what would happen if we just simply visited with each other one day a week – on Sundays? What would we miss? We might miss the Steelers football game. Or the latest status update on Facebook. Or downloading that favorite song. Or a text message from someone who wants to run to the shopping mall. Or spending the afternoon gathering groceries. But those things could wait.
What would we gain? Time spent together, truly conversing, sharing our stories and our lives with one another. And that would be priceless.
“A world without a Sunday would be like a man without a smile, like a summer without flowers, and like a homestead without a garden. It is the joyous day of the whole week.” ~Henry Ward Beecher