It used to be easy. Well, easier.
The shade-lined streets of my childhood stood still on Sundays.
Sound? Church bells. Birds and breeze in trees. No busy traffic rush and roar. Doors of stores all locked up tight. Except one drug store, taking turn, round robin with the others, providing just its pharmacy for emergencies. No shopping malls sprawled wide, and up in the city where we sometimes shopped, no businesses anywhere lured in crowds with Sunday sales.
No football games filled stadiums, or TV screens. Our child play was quiet. It was just expected. Just the way it was.
One woman three doors up from us, sometimes she hung out laundry on the pulleyed rope strung over the alley… On Sunday! It was glanced askance, and frowned upon.
And lots of us (including me), neighbors and family, weren’t even Christians. Some might have checked “Christian” on forms asking “religion,” but didn’t know what that meant.
The inward faith was already dying then. But outer trappings remained—still blessing all the worldlings round about. Most everyone seemed to sense that. So those who loved the Lord’s Day got to spend it far less hindered. And the others got a rest, a break, refreshment for the week ahead.
Peer pressure is strong. And sometimes quite helpful. All this peer pressure made it almost natural to settle down, kick back, rest and refresh…
Many years later, once I knew Christ, those childhood sabbath remnants returned upon my mind, like treasure from the past unearthed. And I stopped. Stilled. Rested, read, and prayed. Breathed deep and smiled.
It was oxygen to my gasping! Single mommyhood alone, far from family, with jammed schedule and demanding job whose endless paperwork and expectations, piled high, made me feel like a cult recruit: overworked and over-exercised and deprived of sleep and allowed no time for sorting thoughts and thinking straight.
So I seized sabbath more than surrendered to it! If only to get my mental bearings and restore my weary body, I saw it as manna for survival.
It wasn’t too hard even then.
I didn’t have a church yet.
I was a single parent alone.
Yes, I had a bouncy toddler. But he knew that day was for quiet fun: Playing about the yard as I sat on the bench in tree shade. Or, in bad weather, coloring in patterns on big bubble letters spelling “God is great. God is good,” as I stilled.
When it got hard was later. After I found a good church and a good man and married into a good Christian family.
There Sabbath mostly meant go-to-church. And no one had to work Sundays, except in emergencies…
But big Sunday dinners were expected tradition.
And Sunday afternoons were often times for ambitious projects like canning big batches of jam or pickles.
And a friend from the good church pronounced my own private attempts to hold onto this gift of rest “legalistic.”
So I hungered.
And bit by bit, over slow time, it happened, took root and grew in fullness, if (even yet) imperfectly. And Husband, he grew into it himself, that weekly sabbath, and now thinks everyone should enjoy it…
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