When I was a kid, Sunday was the most boring, tedious day of all. The house would rise early and scramble in preparation for church. There were eight of us and it took us three hours just to get out the door. My four younger brothers and sisters were only a few years apart and at that time, two were in diapers and the other two were not far behind them.
Out the door and in tow, were two baby bags stuffed with cloth diapers, (not for spit-ups but for wearing…seriously) plastic pants (they covered the cloth diapers), wipes, snacks, safety pins, hard candy (Mom’s sugar rush) and crackers; various changes of clothing and wash clothes. Once we loaded into the station wagon it felt as tedious as a road trip complete with crying babies and the perpetual smell of someone who’d gone in their pants.
Back then, there was no children’s church with brightly colored words to songs flashing on a giant flat screen so that we could sing along. After an hour and a half of Sunday school kids sat with the grown folks and I was thoroughly convinced that if Pastor Clark’s sermons got any more mind-numbing he’d put himself to sleep. The pews were wooden and hard and shifting only earned you a look which straightened your spine and attitude and had you praying for a hailstorm, tornado or some other sudden disaster to disrupt the monotony. Afterwards it was home where Momma cooked a big meal that took hours and afterwards we sat around watching, Wild Kingdom.
Years later Dad became afflicted with Lou Gehrig’s disease and our days were filled with caring for him. We were back and forth to the nursing home and hospitals trying to figure it all out. Years later, Mom grappled with lung cancer. My sister and I took turns caring for her: washing, bathing and pumping stellar drugs into her body in hopes of a miraculous breakthrough. She’d lived a good life and was now ready for eternal rest.
Sometimes sitting with her I would long for those boring, predictable days, including our Sunday ritual. There is a welcomed rhythm to the expected. We thrive on it whether we realize it or not. But often we don’t appreciate it until there is an upset. I’m learning that it is not the great events–good or bad that makes life move at a consistent pace, but the slow, steady rhythm of routine. With those anticipated routines we establish good habits and foundations which build character and wholeness in our lives. From those Sunday school lessons I learned the words of faith to help me through the loss of both Dad and Mom. Those long sermons, well they taught me patience and discipline. It is from those Sundays I learned to be consistent.
Those occasional shakeups may startle us or even cause us to buckle. The good ones may create a euphoria that leaves us high for a while. Man how we like feeling on top of the universe. But eventually we have to come down. We begin to long for ease and repetition. It is that expectancy that causes us to turn back that comforter each morning, plant our bare feet on the floor, stretch and rise.
Next blog I’ll explore how to use the mundane to move along your story.