Sunday

We are walking later in the evening these days. It is natural because the warmer weather makes a mid-day walk a lot more uncomfortable than waiting until around sundown. With the sun setting at around 8:30 in the evening, there is plenty of time for an after dinner walk. We have also found that the area parks, which have never been crowded, are even more deserted in the evening. There will be full parking lots and a bunch of people around some of the ball parks, and a few folks will linger in the creek, but the walking and bike paths are available for those of us who want to walk with plenty of distance between ourselves and others. It is not uncommon for us to have Mary Hall Park to ourselves or share it with just one or two others.

The lyrics of George and Ira Gershwin’s “Summertime and the Living is Easy” are a bit dated but somehow they came to mind last night. Saturdays have become a time when we almost always talk with both of our kids over the computer and get to see our grandchildren. We fell into that pattern when we were still working. Our Sundays tended to be busy and so the day of the weekend that worked to connect was Saturday. Our daughter-in-law works on Saturdays, so we often miss her, but our son is home with the children and we have a good visit. Saturday here is Sunday in Japan and we generally have a good conversation with them. 6 pm here is 9 am there, which works well for a conversation with them.

In the summer we generally cook our main course outdoors. We have a grill next to our deck and often do simple things such as chicken, burgers, brats and the occasional steak. I’ve gotten pretty good at baking a potato on the grill and roasting vegetables. The markets have lots of fresh produce, so even though we aren’t raising a garden this year we are eating well.

We enjoy eating on our deck. These days we have to clean the layer of dust off of the table each day. It is probably more frustrating for me because I have just stained the deck and it is looking good, but with the road construction there is a layer of dust on everything every day. We are getting used to it, but it is the first time I’ve thought of buying a leaf blower. I don’t know how well it would work to blow the dust off of everything, but the thought has entered my mind.

The real difference is that my mind is adjusting to being retired. Saturdays were, for almost all of my adult life, a day of preparation. I rarely wrote my sermons on Saturdays, preferring to have those ideas in my mind earlier in the week, but my mind was focused on the details of Sunday morning for most of the day Saturday. I would be making sure that I had my notes updated on the prayer concerns of the church and that I had all of the things I would need in my backpack before I went to bed on Saturday night. I often had a topic for the next day’s journal entry in mind so that I would be able to get it posted early. Our weekends feel much different these days. There is no Sunday rush. With the time zone difference between here and Washington, the livestream worship from the congregation there starts at 10:45 here, and I don’t have to be there for all of the countdown to the service, so as long as we are in front of the computer by 11:00 we can see the whole service.

I am beginning to remember Sundays from before the time I went to work as a pastor. When I was a child, our routine involved a bit of preparation form Sundays. On Saturday evening we’d polish and shine shoes and set out our fancy clothes for the next morning. On Sunday morning there would be a flurry of activity in the kitchen, getting the pot roast in the oven, preparing salads and such. Our family walked to church year round. It was only two blocks from our home. And the family rule was that we walked to church together. On the way home we could run ahead. Our dad was a talker and he might be the last one to leave the building, but we’d head home to play for a few minutes before dinner. In our house we had dinner at noon and supper in the evening. If our dad found anyone he could invite to dinner, there would be guests at the table and more talking after dinner.

Later, when I went to college, Sunday was the one morning when I didn’t set an alarm to wake up. I did some volunteering in the Church School at the church I attended during my college years, but there wasn’t much preparation for teaching and I could arrive ten or fifteen minutes before the start of things, so didn’t have to rush. After we married, I would buy a Sunday paper from a newsstand and we’d read the paper over a leisurely breakfast before heading off to church.

But for most of our lives, Sundays have been rush days. I’d rise early, shower, dress and eat a breakfast that could be prepared easily. I often went to the church ahead of other family members to be prepared for worship. I liked to spend time in the sanctuary and go through my sermon at least once before anyone else arrived at the building. A little extra time for my prayers was necessary before people started coming, because there would be a lot of business and urgent conversations that needed to be pursued before worship. Final talks with the choir director and organist and lay reader to make sure everything was coordinated. By noon I felt like I’d put in a whole day’s work.

It is different now. Perhaps I’m re-learning the art of Sabbath. I can tell it will take a bit more time for me to adjust.

Copyright (c) 2020 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!