A Month of Sundays

By on August 13, 2017

My dad was a United Methodist minister so the Sunday mornings of my childhood had a comforting sameness to them. After church, Mom would make a big lunch of comfort food. This was the only meal of the week that included dessert. We never hurried through this meal. We lingered and talked afterwards. The conversions usually included a critique of my dad’s sermon, especially when he had told a story about one of us in which he used embellishment or poetic license. I am sure he enjoyed this thoroughly.
My dad would then retire to his recliner, monopolizing our only television and mom would take a long nap. This would leave about a four-hour window of time to do anything we wanted. We would read, play and listen to music. Sometimes my sister and I would make entire feasts with our Easy Bake oven. I don’t think my folks enjoyed these delights because they often say they were on diets. This rhythm of Sunday afternoons continued into my adulthood. My children had similar Sundays.
My work as a Medical Technologist in a large lab required me to work every other weekend. I have learned that a person can create a pocket of Sabbath time on a Thursday afternoon. I have also learned that failing to give myself permission to take this time can turn a normally sane and kind woman into a seething ball of resentment who might be frothing at the mouth.
I believe Sabbath time is a coma penned in a runaway sentence. In my book I write,
“The gift of Sabbath gives us permission to stop and take a breath. It is a touchstone to the Divine.
It asks us to simply meet life as it comes, to appreciate our imperfect lives, and to feel at peace for one day or at least a little while.”
The year I turned forty-nine, my husband died. I was lost. Looking back I know how I survived it; one Sunday at a time. Six days a week I had to keep it together but for one day a week I could grieve. I cried, slept and prayed. Soon I began doing things I love: walking, spending time with my children, writing poetry and reading stories from my journals. Because Sundays provide the down time to write , I saw a theme in the stories. This book began to write itself.
I have included over 100 recipes in the book. They are my family recipes, the stuff of Sunday dinners. I never meant for the book to be any kind of culinary masterpiece. The recipes are just a gift to my readers. But they are also comfort food. I cooked all of them to make sure they worked. Because I was cooking them daily, I gained 40 pounds.
I like to think that this book is a gift to a tired, stressed world, one in which there is so much striving and angst. I want the book to give my readers permission to intentionally and regularly put aside their normal routines and play, sing, read, pray, to make out with their spouses. I also hope it makes them feel spiritually refreshed and closer to their Creator. Life is so brief. Maybe God gave us Sabbath to help us remember that.
This excerpt From a Month of Sundays is taken from a chapter that has seemed to really resonate with my readers. It is a simple memory of making cherry jam with a dear friend of mine.
…Our hair clings to our necks in damp strands as we sit on the porch swing to cool down. We swing back and forth in silence, basking in the familiarity of each other. “We are just like sisters,” Filly says. This the sweetest blessing a woman can bestow upon another. Even while wearing smudges mascara, sitting in bare feet and wearing shorts spotted with cherry juice, I am accepted. The wind chime in the corner rings like the bells from a faraway steeple, and friendship dances like fairy light, swirling in the tender night air as jelly jars begin to ping one by one.
Wise women gather to cook, sew create. Wise women cherish the modest work that allows children to play nearby, encourages one to work in bare feet, makes good use of the wisdom that comes of age.They understand that with the passing of time, a gathering of women can became a thread of ritual that will connect one soul to another like a rosary.
~By Paula Hartman, author of “A Month of Sundays
Paula is the daughter of a United Methodist minister. She is a life long student of comparative religion. She graduated from The University of Toledo where she majored in English and Chemistry. She is a writer, poet and playwright by day and a medical technologist at The Cleveland Clinic/Akron General by night. Her works include A Month of Sundays, Real Life Stories and Dear Humankind.

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A Month of Sundays