When I was growing up all businesses were closed on Sunday. Nothing was open. Absolutely nothing. Except the drug store, in case someone needed medicine.
Sunday was a designated day of rest.
In our break-neck, fast-paced world, that sounds foreign, doesn’t it? But in the early 1950s, everything and everyone slowed down on Sunday. We all took a deep breath and then exhaled all the cares of the past week, be it work or school or plain old crazy life.
Our family went to church on Sunday morning and then after, we did two things I remember loving. Dad took us for milkshakes at the corner drugstore.
And after we had glugged down the cold, frothy drinks, we did something unheard of today.
Now that may sound odd to those who have their faces glued to an electronic device, but let me tell you — it was pure joy and adventure. The hot Texas air poured through the open windows as dad maneuvered the car out onto the open road without a clue as to where we might head.
“Let’s see where we end up,” dad would say.
We’d drive past wide open fields bordered with barbed wire fences and dotted with cattle and tumbleweeds. We’d pass old shanty shacks and see Mexican woman hanging laundry on the line. We’d sing and tell stories inside the car — or sometimes my brothers would fight with each other, let’s be honest here — but mostly, we’d drive winding, dusty roads and head out into the horizon.
And do nothing but enjoy it.
I loved it.
Why? Because we were together. As a family. We were exploring the beautiful world God had created. And we were content with where we were, in the moment, with each other.
We were in rhythm with the heartbeat of the world.
Today, we are so sucked into the chaotic tempo of our schedules and timetables that we’ve forgotten to stop. To breathe. To take Sabbath time.
Sundays now are like any other day. Not special or sacred. We are connected to all things digital or shopping at the mall or on social media — not that any of those are wrong or bad — but they take us away from a day set aside for rest.
They take away a holy opportunity to step back from the craziness of life and breathe.
And we need it. Especially today. Lately, the world feels as if it’s spinning out of control. We may have no power over the upheavals around us, but we do have a choice to renew ourselves one day a week. Sundays can be that day, a time to shut out everything that plagues us and to replenish body and spirit.
In an interview, minister and therapist Wayne Muller (and one of my favorite authors) says of Sabbath time:
“The Sabbath has a joyful uselessness to it. We are not supposed to accomplish anything of any significance so that we can stop looking for what’s not there and have the time to drink from what’s already here.”
Taking that time is critical to our well-being, Muller adds.
” … in spiritual practice we invite forces larger than us, such as Jesus, Mary or the Buddha, to work on us in some way. Some amount of time is required for us to be worked on. Healing doesn’t always require us to work; sometimes we need to be worked on.
“Sabbath allows us to compost in a way that the quiet seeds planted in the soil of our bodies, hearts and minds can germinate … we lose the harvest of our practice if we don’t have time to take our hands off the plow and rest in the hammock of delight provided for us by the Sabbath precepts of many spiritual traditions.”
Sadly, some of those spiritual traditions drum up memories of Sundays that were dry and boring and anything but healing. But Abraham Hesholl, the Jewish scholar, calls the Sabbath the day of delight. It’s a day to be nourished, as the Divine intended us to be. It is a gift we can accept or refuse.
Dad made sure we received that gift on Sundays. That we were nourished with a milkshake and a drive into the countryside. And then when we returned home, we replenished ourselves with long afternoon naps or playing outside in the tall grass.
So, when was the last time you relaxed into Sabbath time? Took a Sunday drive? Did absolutely nothing.
Try it. You might like it. And don’t forget that milkshake. It will do your soul good.