My Great Grandfather’s Voice

It is Sunday, that ignominious ending of the weekend,  tentative start of the week, replete with crowding at the stores and lines at the restaurants.  It is Sunday.   From his tumble-down barn in Margaree Falls, Nova Scotia, my great grandfather’s voice drifts over decades.  “No work on Sundays. Honor the Lord your God.”

The summons of  that voice, of the cadence of his Gaelic tones, brings me here, to this place.   He coerces me to consider what “work” means in a digital world, what “Sundays” really are and how to “honor” God in a culture rooted in frenzied individualism and profound self-gratification.   Its urgency cannot be diminished;  there is the hint of soft and tender desire hidden in its demand.

Intentionally devoting time to what Sundays are about, can be about, is part of the process. To set aside the insistence of email, skirt the exigencies  of social media, ignore the habitual errands that might not actually need to be done,  that can all be buying into Sunday as a beginning.  Sundays can become the quiet day of focusing that can sustain all the energies of the rest of the week.

Knowing that “work” suffers so many definitons means finding what that means and then deliberately choosing something else: leisure, community presence, maybe even church.  “Something else” must be life-giving and healing, a respite from the heady rush of living out privileged roles. It must have the capacity to allow for reflection, to unchain the freedom to explore and wonder, to embrace the ordinary and sense the extraordinary.

Sundays can become that day free of the burden of proving self in a work world.  It can be the time to linger with family, to be present to the needs of others, to build the sustenance of a home.  It can be that day of discovery of what is precious and real.  It can mean noticing yellow breasted birds nestling in a winter tree branch.  Sunday can allow a challenge to the trip of virtual reality by truly living reality.  It can have the character of communal meals or the fiber of deep conversation between friends. It can be more than what it is now.

Essentially, that is honoring God.  To honor God is to recognize that the universe is whole with or without us.  It means accepting the finite and fleeting nature of human presence in the whole flow of history.  It means praciticng gratitude for the time allowed us and choosing deliberately how to best serve the needs of  others.  It means tending to self by interfacing with the divine spark within.  It means breathing deeply not in fear or trepidation but with trust and fortitude. Conscious of the promises afforded each of us, to honor God is to honor how time is gifted us, then spent and managed. To honor God is to embrace the process of reflection, of that deep breathing that produces an awareness of the divine.

I have never been to Margaree Falls, never entered that barn.  But I cannot silence nor forget two simple sentences that resonate in this complicated world.  I choose to honor Sunday, to honor God, and to explore all that means over and over.

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