Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Problem with Sunday

I don't have much of a hard time believing in God as Father like the claimed feminists do.  After all, only a masculine identity could assert that we should be fruitful and multiply and then require that we devote one entire day every single week to...resting.  If God was revealed as Mother, certainly things would have made a bit more sense to us feminine folk, right?  I picture the Israelite women in the middle of the desert wrangling their passel of kids and babies looking at shiney-face Moses holding those sacred tablets with mouths agape.  "You want us to do what?!?"
I kid, obviously, but I know I can't be the only one who struggles with accepting and living the Sabbath as a day of rest, right?

I think it's amazing how the orthodox Jews and some of the stricter fundamentalists really do live in such a way that little to no work is done on Sunday.  It requires a laudable attention to detail and organization and a tremendous amount of piety.  My fancy oven even has a "Sabbath mode" that can be programmed in for just such people.  Have you ever read the Little House books?  The Ingalls children were not allowed to play outside or read anything but the Bible all day long.  Loud talking and less than solemn conversation was discouraged.  It sounds quite dreadful, to be honest, and according to Laura, it was.

There was a time when I dreaded Sunday, too.  Not because of Mass obligations or forced silence (that actually sounds quite lovely, I think) but because of the command to rest.  How in the world was I supposed to rest?  I felt it meant that we had to sit on our hands and stare at the laundry piling up or the floor needing to be swept.  Somehow I felt I was supposed to get a full Sunday-worthy dinner onto the table, have family time with my little gang of boys, and of course, get all of us fed, dressed, and to Mass on time all while somehow "resting."  It was a constant struggle between feeling like it was quite illogical and impossible and the frustration that I was missing the point anyway because it was so hard for me to not to dwell on the work piling up and the strenuous Monday morning ahead required to get back on track.  Add a generous helping of guilt for any work I did give in and do and Sundays were far from my favorite day of the week.  I breathed a sigh of relief on Monday morning that the weekend was over and I could get back on routine and catch back up.  So yep, I pretty much was missing the entire point.

What is the point?
The point (as I see it) is fundamentally to remember who we are.  The point is to see ourselves once again as children of a loving Father.  The point is to remember that at the very core, this life is not about what we do but rather about who we are and to Whom we belong.  It is a time when we can strip ourselves of the identities in which we clothe ourselves that seek to display our worth by the checked-off checklists and the frantic state in which we hustle from one activity to the next.  And we remember that when all is stripped away, anything we have or do is only from Him.  It is a time to be renewed and to recreate.  We can spend time doing the things that make us come fully alive - playing with our children, singing, crafting, praying, reading, dancing, loving, relating.  Time doing the useless things, the climax of which should be doing the most useless thing of all as we worship God in the liturgy.

"The Sabbath was made for man not man for the Sabbath so the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath."  Mark 2:27

It is a day made FOR us, not to be a burden or a dread.  Do we think that God needs us to set aside a day to worship and rest?  He's just fine without that, I think.  WE are the ones who need it.  We need to be reminded of the Resurrection.  We need to worship and praise and play and rest.  We need to remember that many of these busy tasks we run around doing don't really matter all that much anyway.  We need to remember who we are because if you're like me, you'll probably spend the rest of the week forgetting.

So how do we reconcile that with the living breathing work of motherhood?  Part of our fundamental identity, part of who we truly are, is found in our relationships.  We are made for communion.  I am first and foremost a daughter of God.  But I am also wife, mother, daughter, sister, and so on.  Those are things that cannot ever be changed and they should not be viewed as competition with my Sunday rest.  After all, God is the One Who has called me to all.  The tedious tasks of motherhood don't magically go away one day a week.  The baby still needs to be diapered, the toddler dressed, and we do still need to eat, even on Sunday.  But these things, these necessary tasks before me, they are not distractions from who I am.  They are, rather, an invitation to be more fully myself.  I'll make the pop psychologists cringe as I find more of myself through giving myself to those He has given to me.  That is what I will try to remember on Sunday - that I am His and that I am made for love.  In that, I think, I will find rest.


  



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4 comments:

  1. Thank you Mary! This past year, I have really been trying to be more aware of how I spend my Sundays. This puts into a great perspective!

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  2. I love this. Thank you. (Is it bad that I started a load of laundry after midnight? :). " I find more of myself through giving myself to those He has given to me. " perfectly said. Have a great week. I will think of you when I'm spending Monday morning doing laundry. With each load of laundry, I offer a prayer thanking Our Lord for all these children who dirty these clothes through their playful, purposeful lives.

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  3. I've struggled with this concept for so many years....it seems Saturday is more my day of "rest" - when we are out hiking as a family - away from home and the demands and stuff to do. Sunday, often, is one of my more productive days. And I love it because I can great a great start to my week and feel rested because I don't have a bajillion things to do on Monday.

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  4. "not what we do, but who we are' - this resonates with me deeply, thank you.

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