Saturday, January 18, 2014

3,000 Sundays


When I was a kid I hated Sundays….dreaded to see Saturday go and those deathly quiet Sundays come around.  I grew up in a little farming community in central California and, back then, just about everything shut down on Sundays.  Businesses did so for fear that their church-going customers might demonize them for doing business on the lord's day.  And, since a big old slice of America attended church, they often came home and just lazed around the house, also committed to not working on Sundays.

But kids hate quiet; they revel in the cacophony of boisterous sounds of play, of lawnmowers and hedge trimmers and the engine revs of a Saturday morning tuneup, of school field football games, and the piff of sling shots firing pebbles at the warring sparrows.  

So Sunday would settle in with a deathly quiet.  The fog seemed to linger a bit longer, fighting for dominance with the rising sun.  And, in our house, Sunday meant having to go to Sunday school and enduring the attempts to salvage our rebelling youthful souls.  Our particular Sunday school was especially hellish as we had the pastor's wife in one of those fire and brimstone Baptist churches as our Sunday school teacher.  She would greet us with a smile but, within minutes, open up the book of Revelations and cite all the signs that pointed to the end of the world, thus the need to cleanse our sinful souls.  After an hour long religious tirade we would at last be free to scurry out to the church bus that would ferry us home.  As reward for our Sunday School attendance, the driver would hand us a candy bar, or an ice cream as we got off the bus…I suspect were it not for that little religious bribe we would have given our mother far more grief about having to go to church.

After church we would have lunch at home, turn on the TV only to find early afternoon religious programs, again telling us of our sure fire hell awaiting us, then silence the TV and wander out into the streets, looking for a little "action", any action that would drive away the Sunday blahs.

For a short time during those youthful Sundays we had a benefactor, a family friend, who would give us a quarter for a movie ticket and popcorn for a Sunday matinee, one of the few avenues of entertainment available on the seventh day.  The theater made sure the film shown on the Sunday matinee had some socially redeeming value so as not to offend the parents.  Those Sunday movies included The Ten Commandments, Ben Hur or some other biblical spectacle meant to keep us on the straight and narrow.  At other times a Disney movie would be shown.

Strangely, now, after living through over 3,000 of those Sundays, I find them to be fine day indeed.  I relish the hush of an early Sunday morning, the rising to the aroma of fresh brewed coffee, a clean crisp Sunday paper to pore over.  If I'm feeling a might "peppery" I can tune into the three Sunday morning talks shows and curse political idiocy, or I can just seek further respite out on the back patio with a second cup of coffee.

By the time I've had my fill of the quietude of morning, in football season I can warm up the chili, throw a few dogs on the grill, heat up the Cheeze Whiz, break out the Doritos and park myself in my recliner for a full day of modern day savagery!  

So Sundays are pretty good these days!  If I need a six pack of beer, or tube socks, or a dozen eggs, the Money Changers are in the temple over at Walmart and Target and every other business, none of them ever again fearful of a religious rebuke for operating on Sundays.  

And, if all I want is to luxuriate in the hushed tones of quietude, if I yearn only to hear my own feet shuffling across the room, or to listen to the morning calls of a family of doves, I can do that too.

I guess the only thing I would ask for, should I have a choice, is to not die on a Sunday.  I think I would prefer to go out with a bang…perhaps to the sounds of a John Phillips Sousa march as I take that first step toward my ultimate judgement….no fire and brimstone prayers for me, ever……please.

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