In my old Baltimore catechism the third in the “commandments of God” was “Remember thou keep holy the Lord’s Day.”
Growing up Catholic in the 50s and 60s this meant going to church and eating a midday meal together (Sunday dinner). Most stores were closed, so there was no shopping and people weren’t supposed to work. No liquor was sold and no bars were open until later in the afternoon (ostensibly to not interfere with my uncle’s church-going!)
The Sabbath was a day of worship, but it was also a day of rest. I remember my father, who worked hard all week, spent the afternoon working on his flower beds, or tying flies and making lures for future fishing trips. Sometimes he just snoozed by the radio or TV as Yankees baseball or NY Giants football played on in the background.
In the late 60s and 70s things began to change. Organized religion lost its iron grip; malls opened up, and instead of a day of rest Sunday became another day of the week. Nowadays, the internet, blackberries, cell phones and other electronic devices make it hard to have a stopping point or even a moment alone from work, shopping, and keeping up.
A few weeks ago, I realized I could not relax anymore. Worn down by a seven-day-a-week attachment to my computer, I continually worked, emailed, researched stuff on Google, and thought of more things to do.
Without thinking about it too much I returned to a modified Sabbath of my girlhood.
I have spent the last several Sunday mornings sitting on the back porch with my spouse talking and being together. We watch the birds in the backyard, and look at our flowers, butterfly bushes, and herb and vegetable garden. We marvel how they have grown and changed since we planted them. We observe the small changes that herald the coming of a new season. After morning coffee, we go for a long walk on the beach, sit down for a leisurely dinner together, and enjoy a companionable silence reading the Sunday Times or a new book.
A few weeks ago, I was tired on the inside and out. Now, after several Sundays of no work, I am beginning to appreciate the wisdom of setting aside one day to rest, renew, and appreciate all that God has made for us.
For a good book on this subject, try “A Day Apart: How Jews, Christians and Muslims Find Faith, Freedom and Joy on the Sabbath” by Christopher Ringwald.