On Sundays, we look for our particular kind of holiness.
Mornings are different on Sundays. The day develops differently. When I was an impressionable child, I thought Sundays felt different because God was watching. He was watching me in my church pew in our small town Lutheran church, the church that never grew out of its ’70s-era remodel, brown carpets and all. If I was good during church and listened attentively in Sunday school – which I always was, because it came with a pretty dress – we would do something fun, like go golfing or visit at Grandma’s house.
I left behind that childish view and steadfast faith in any god, but Sundays are different. Sundays are special.
Sundays are for waking up bit by bit, sleeping in late, no rush. For some people, Sundays are for brunch, and isn’t brunch just as special as church? There’s something holy about filling up a table with people you love, for spending an hour or two in their company with something as simple as a meal.
Sundays are for Johnny Cash, for Neil Young, for George Strait or Patsy Cline or Dolly Parton. Sundays are for making breakfast listening to the oldies station. Sunday is the day stores and restaurants get to delay their opening a little bit longer, when you get the peace of an empty space empty of customers demands and needs. You move around quietly in the moments before open, not wanting to wake up dishes and racks.
Saturday is the day you get your work done. You do your laundry, get your groceries, run your errands. Saturdays don’t hold the restful appeal of Sunday. Saturday is all run run run, run run run. So many events! So many places to be! We have to see every face on Saturday. We have to fight in parking ramps and subway stations and Target aisles. Saturday is about movement.
Sundays stand still. Sundays start slow. Sundays are for watching the day develop. Sundays are for exploring. Sundays are for aimless drives, for cups of coffee, for waking up next to the person you love and finding each other there in the rumpled bedsheets. Or you spend Sunday by yourself, relying on your own company. Sunday is quiet and accepting of that; Sunday doesn’t pressure you to find diversion in other people.
Sundays are for no makeup, for glasses, for books, for naps, for spending the day watching the same movies cable channels play every weekend. Sunday is a good day for “A League of their Own.” Sunday is for football, for friends and beers and bars. Sunday loves you just as you are, even loves you when you’re slovenly.
On Sundays you find holiness in everything, in the way the sun makes the snow sparkle, in children dressed up for church or Sunday dinner, in the way LA smog dusts the sky in pink. Sunday has a way of making you stop and appreciate.
Sundays are for church, if you go. Maybe you attend because you believe. Maybe you attend because you feel compelled to go. Faith is different for everyone, same as Sunday.
As a child, I only felt enchanted by church when people stood to sing. Row upon row of small-town folks, the people I saw every day, were different when they were singing. There were unassuming men with beautiful voices, voices they only utilized at church. They sang not because they had to, but because they felt the need to. My grandma’s hands shook as she held her hymnal. My mom and her sisters sang the alto lines. My father, when he was forced to go, didn’t sing but looked sheepish and uncomfortable in the suit he wore in lieu of his farmer’s Levis and cowboy boots. My brother and I didn’t sing as children because we didn’t know how, but we sing now even if we don’t believe the way we did as babies.
Hymns are beautiful regardless of the message. They’re especially beautiful when sung by your family.
Sunday forgives you for your sins the night before. Sunday doesn’t judge, Sunday doesn’t care if you’re spilling your guts out in front of the toilet or hiding in bed all day or shooing someone out the door. Sunday doesn’t mind your three-days-old eyeliner or your laziness or your grouchy, insistent headache.
Sundays make us appreciative of the fast pace of the week. The older you get, the shorter a day seems. Sundays are a slowdown, but a reminder that it’s starting again tomorrow. Sunday says, Enjoy this. Sunday only comes once a week. Find your holiness where you can.