A Day of Rest

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by Talya Tate Boerner @GraceGrits

After Sunday morning church service, we changed out of our good clothes and put on play clothes. Next, we gathered around the kitchen table for a mighty fine meal — Daddy, Momma, my sister and me. Momma made sure she filled our grumbling stomachs, often with the pot roast she’d left slow-cooking in her black speckled pan while we attended church. Being around all that preaching sure made us ravenous.

“What are we doing the rest of the day?” my sister asked as she jabbed a juicy bit of meat with her fork.

“Absolutely nothing,” Momma said in her dreamiest voice.

Sunday was always a day of rest. That’s what the adults called it anyway. After a busy week, adults were too tired to do anything but rest. Of course, Daddy drove around checking on the farm because as a farmer, he was exempt from rest, but Momma didn’t vacuum or run errands or anything. Even grocery store owners understood resting on Sunday was more important than making a few bucks selling cans of green beans and bags of dog food. After all, resting on the seventh day was in the Holy Bible, right near the beginning of everything.

The truth was the last thing kids needed or wanted during the weekend was rest. Rest was for the sick, the old, the tired, my Nana, who took regular afternoon naps because of bad headaches.

My sister and I played together on those Sunday afternoons, sometimes reading the books we had checked out from the public library, sometimes playing records and singing aloud in the den. Often we wrote stories and plays, then performed them in the dining room to an attentive Barbie audience, all pink smiles and bright blue eyes. If it wasn’t too muddy outside, we walked through the winter fields carrying our radio and singing whatever came on WHBQ.

A long, long time ago, I can still remember how the music used to make me smile…

You see, we planned to be famous singers or actors or both (we’d not yet decided), and since practice made perfect (at least in the wretched world of piano lessons), we fine-tuned our talents on those restful Sundays.

Were those days restful for Momma?

Somehow, I doubt it.

The truth was the last thing kids needed or wanted during the weekend was rest.

Occasionally after Sunday lunch, we visited family who lived nearby on Little River. Those were the best afternoons when aunts and cousins shared remember-when stories like a box of chocolate candy passed around the kitchen table. While coffee perked, we heard tales of a great-grandpa known only from faded snapshots; we learned of third cousins who lived in exotic places like Louisiana.

Did baking violate the resting on Sunday rule? I wondered this on more than one occasion but reasoned people needed sustenance no matter the day. And, when it came to the pies and cobblers my Aunt Lavern whipped together and dished out, the entire experience was nothing short of the loaves and fishes miracle as told in the Gospel of John.

Later, back home, we ate leftovers for supper and watched Wild Kingdom on television. Sometimes, Momma made one of Daddy’s favorite desserts — chocolate pudding served in individual bowls or fudge made from the recipe on the back of the cocoa canister.

Melancholy settled over me as dusk gave way to dark. Soon, the school bell would ring on another Monday morning, and unless significant snow fell during the night, wintertime Mondays were never days of rest, not even for kids.

Now, I realize those Sunday afternoons paved the way for Monday morning blessings. After such a soul-revitalizing day, even a fifth-grader like me could face anything the Devil tossed my way on a Monday morning bus ride. And those days of rest (and abundance) provided Momma plenty of inspiration to begin her next diet first thing Monday morning.

Talya Tate Boerner is a fourth-generation Arkansas farm girl and Farm Bureau member. She is the author of two books: The Accidental Salvation of Gracie Lee and Gene, Everywhere — available wherever books are sold. This column is re-published with permission from Arkansas Farm Bureau.

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Credit: Preston Keres, USDA/FPAC / CC0 

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