Monday, July 17, 2017

Motherly Advice....The benefits of treating Sunday as a day of rest...


We truly have lost the art of treating our Sundays as our day of rest. Do you remember a time when Sundays were spent with the family around the table for a post-Sunday school roast lunch? Everyone would then fall into a food coma, rousing themselves around 3pm for a bit of gardening or reading or even watching the mid afternoon movie or a long game of Monopoly. Happy times. No expectations to DO anything. Nobody asked you at school on Monday what you'd done on the weekend. Because weekends were for doing nothing.

Here's something interesting I found on Wikipaedia:

Sunday as a day of rest
"According to halakha (Jewish religious law), Shabbat is observed from a few minutes before sunset on Friday evening until the appearance of three stars in the sky on Saturday night.[1] Shabbat is ushered in by lighting candles and reciting a blessing. Traditionally, three festive meals are eaten: in the evening, in the early afternoon, and late in the afternoon. The evening meal typically begins with a blessing called kiddush and another blessing recited over two loaves of challah. Shabbat is closed the following evening with a havdalah blessing. Shabbat is a festive day when Jews exercise their freedom from the regular labors of everyday life. It offers an opportunity to contemplate the spiritual aspects of life and to spend time with family."
Isn't that gorgeous? Doesn't it just want to make you light candles, bake Challah Bread (a lot like a Brioche), and spend time with your family? I know it does for me.
I want to run and get my vintage woollen blanket, scented with home made wool wash, and smelling like Lux flakes and baby powder, light a candle, and snuggle on the sofa with my Husband and Girl Child-Woman, having just feasted on French Toast made from Challah Bread that we've blessed.
Alas we are not Jewish.
But then again, does that really matter? Could we not formulate a similar routine for ourselves? No harm done, and perhaps much to be gained.
Here's some news...I was once a practising Mormon
 We were raised Methodist, until my mother had us baptised into the Mormon faith. I was about 11 years old when I was baptised, and my siblings aged between 2 and 9. I believe Mum was attracted to the very family friendly ethic of the church back then, and certainly their stance on healthy living, and treating the body as a temple, aligned with her own ideas, having been raised on a farm.
For we children, whilst we objected to not being permitted to drink Coca-Cola (due to the caffeine content), attending church was more about the social aspect than anything, and we lapped up the opportunity to spend time with church buddies as often as possible. Youth Group figured large in my own week, and Stake Meetings were an opportunity to check out the boys and girls that might be our future Beaus. We had special Church outfits, always a pretty dress for we girls, never trousers, and always pretty shoes. Hmmm. I wonder if this was when my obsession with shoes started! We were all encouraged to dress and behave like young ladies and gentlemen, and we all treated Sunday as a chance to look our best.
I am no longer a practising Mormon, but I learned enormously from our active time in the church. I believe that ultimately Mum drifted away from the church due to their stand on not allowing certain ethnicities to bear office. This did not sit well with her, and we, and the church, parted ways. I understand that this belief has now been rescinded, and I wonder if Mum were here, whether she would have returned to the fold. Either way, I think she would be proud of the lessons we learned, and retained from our years spent as active Mormons.
The examples set for a lifetime
We loved the example set by the Dads in our church, as we had grown up without a Dad. The Dads were all smiling and gentle and involved, and had many, many children. We seven were a small family compared to some! Mum was welcomed into the hub of the Womens Ministry, and added to her already impressive basket of home life skills. This set a precedent in our own expectations of how Dads and Mums should behave, and anyone that any of us dealt with in our adult life whose behaviour conflicted with this example, was promptly ejected. It also allowed us to grow and become good and gentle and involved parents.
Another habit that contributed to these expectations was Family Home Evening. Every Thursday, was marked by a visit from the missionaries in our area. They were always cheerful, fresh-faced Americans, who regaled us of tales of living in a place that we all believed was Disneyland personified. In truth, they all came from similar backgrounds to our own, and their families had made great sacrifices to allow them to embark on their mission. We loved having them around, and they loved being around us. I think they saw in our Mum, the traits of their own Mothers, who I am sure they missed greatly.
Ultimately, we learned that being a good person, started with being good to self and loved ones. It meant eating well, and refraining from consuming food and drink that would be detrimental to health in the long term. It meant valuing Mothers and Fathers and your own children above others. It meant exercising a strong will and learning to say no when peer pressure reared it's ugly head. And it meant that many experiences in life, whilst uncomfortable at the time, can teach us much about ourselves.
Fast Day and it's benefits
One thing I did not enjoy, as a growing teen, was Fast Day. In stark contrast to the feasting of the Sabbath in the Jewish faith, for one Sunday a month, we abstained from the first two meals of the day, and the money saved, was donated to the Church to support the needy. We also abstained from watching television, listening to the radio, or gallivanting with friends, spending time in our bedroom with our bibles (ha!), enjoying quiet contemplation. Truthfully, I think Mum was the one enjoying the quiet contemplation with seven of us to care for. We kids, having been to Church, and without breakfast or lunch in our bellies, were inclined to get a little fractious! There wasn't too much reading of bibles, and a bit more of poking each other, trying to get a rise out of the siblings with whom we shared a bedroom. But out of respect for the ritual, we had our familial debates in hoarse whispers instead of shouts. Come sundown, Mum would serve a simple meal. Often crepes with lemon and sugar, with huge mugs of Milo, or sometimes the traditional Sunday Roast. We would find that despite having missed breakfast and lunch, that we couldn't possible eat any more than we usually would. A lesson in itself.
Fast forward (no pun intended) forty-something years, and I now see the importance of Fast Day in the scheme of our family life. We learned that hunger is universal and can happen to anyone. We learned that going without would not kill us. We learned that eating after a fast was a whole, new, sensory pleasure, that did not involve gorging ourselves. We learned that normal hunger is nothing compared to ongoing hunger, and how that must impact the truly needy (unlike our family where we didn't have a lot of money for consumerist pleasures, but there was always, always, food on the table). We learned the value of charitable giving, even though we were not a moneyed family. We learned that that quiet contemplation, even the enforced kind, was a skill born of practice, and this was a wonderful discipline.
 A President of the Church of Latter Day Saints, has been quoted as saying:
"What would happen if the principles of fast day and the fast offering were observed throughout the world? The hungry would be fed, the naked clothed, the homeless sheltered. ... A new measure of concern and unselfishness would grow in the hearts of people everywhere."

These days of course, this line of thought, translates to Challenges aplenty, run by various organisations, both Christian and Charitable, that advocate abstaining from food, alcohol, office-wear, hair, and shaving, instead using those things, or lack thereof, to raise money. Many folk jump on board once, or perhaps twice in their lifetime, or even once each year, and feel they've done their bit. But as suggested, what if this were employed as regularly as Fast Day?

Truly, the sky would be the limit.

Putting lessons into practice
Failing the ability to resurrect Fast Day in our household,(mostly because my husband and daughter did not grow up with the concept as I did), once a month (or more often if I can), I content myself with serving two meals on a Saturday and Sunday, a late brunch and an early dinner. Nobody even notices. I make sure that the brunch is substantial and served at around 10am, and stretch everyone out for the evening meal, till about 7pm, allowing some fruit salad and tea mid afternoon. It's good for our waistline, and similarly, reminds us that being a little peckish, is actually something that helps us enjoy the meal before us. Similar to my childhood experiences, missing one meal, does not mean we overindulge at dinner. In fact, we often find we crave a lighter meal, and sleep more deeply as a consequence.
The weeks I do this, I donate pantry items to the equivalent value of that missed meal (perhaps $10-$20), to the Foodbank bin outside my local supermarket. You see, the principle is the same. To support the less fortunate in our local community. How that is accomplished doesn't matter too much.
The ritual of a slower day
On these days too, we have a quiet, restful schedule. This fulfills the second intent, which is to promote rest and reflection, and opportunity to contemplate our spirituality. My husband composes music (surely a God given talent), and my daughter studies or reads for pleasure. At her age, reading for pleasure includes Shakespearean plays, and the classics such as Little Women, Emma, and The Crucible. She learns greatly from exploring these tomes, as opposed to the usual teen reading. I spend a little time reading, be it Bible or spiritual writings, sewing or crocheting, allowing myself a quieter, gentler day. We Mothers are not always good at this, so an enforced easy day, does me good. It's acknowledging my own human frailties, and saying yes, it's okay to rest now. This gives me time to generate little pretties to donate to a local teen mothers support group. Tiny crocheted hats and hand stamped muslin wraps, rinsed in home made wool wash to soften them, are heavenly to Mums and babes who do not have too much in their life that is bespoke.
The result of these restful Sundays, is that we arise on Monday morning, fresh and ready to face the week ahead. In stark contrast to students who arrive on Mondays weary from family outings, teen parties, sporting events and general socialising, our daughter is rested and eager to learn. We feel at peace in mind, body and spirit, and handle the work-a-day week with more grace and patience.
Even if you are not religious, there is something to be said for revising how you schedule your Sundays. Is it worth trying to treat one Sunday a month as a quiet day? A day for rest and reflection? A day to enjoy family time without having to do so with extended family or friends and acquaintances? Could you go without one meal a month, ongoing, and donate to charity? The feel good factor of doing so over a lifetime, far outweighs a once a year 'challenge'.
What do you think?
Were you raised in a particular spiritual faith?
What lessons did you learn?


  1. So interesting Mimi! I love the LDS church and they are so incredibly generous with advice of every kind of all aspects of food storage etc. Several of my best friends are still in the church, though in the US. This background has to have something to do with your good sense and management skills.
    We do need a quiet day to reflect, restore, plan, relax... it does us so much good.
    Several of the ladies on Bluebirds regularly take their produce to LDS canneries. Anyone apparently is allowed to use the facilities to build up their own pantries... they teach classes too. So interesting! xxx

    1. Dear Annabel, it's a funny thing. If you take 'religion' out of the equation, which is what some people get so uptight about, the LDS have a wonderful philosophy on family, clean, healthy living, and preparedness. There are many lessons to be learned. That's interesting about the ladies taking produce to the LDS canneries. I must look into whether a similar arrangement exists here! Have a lovely week. Mimi xxx

  2. I grew up Methodist, but have always been interested in LDS for same reason that attracted your mom. Your day of rest and reflection post has many fine and useful points. Truly, thanks for sharing.. Gail

    1. Dear Gail, I have to say, that those years were happy ones for us. We felt accepted, supported and valued. Nothing to do with religion as such. We had so much in common with the other families. They were all big families, 6 or more usually, not focused on materialism, bonded by faith, and gently welcoming. It was a good time. Mimi xxx

  3. Mimi, a very thought provoking post.
    Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thankyou Laurie. I am pleased you think so. Mimi xxx

  4. I was raised a Baptist and my husband was raised as a Methodist. We are no longer active Sunday worshippers, but we try to make Sundays restful and restorative. Time just to discuss things, think, potter about gardening, be creative, get in touch with nature, or even watch sports is a valuable break from everyday worries and (in our 24 hour society) often overlooked and unappreciated. Tracy X

    1. Dear Tracy, you sound like us. My husband was raised Presbyterian. He also attended Boys Brigade. The lessons he learned have stayed with him too, and as a business owner, he really values his Sundays. I agree that in the rush-rush of everyday life, the value of the quiet Sunday, is vastly under valued. Mimi xxx

  5. My husband & I were both raised Catholic. My grandparents, whom I lived with for a good portion of my youth, were primarily responsible for my religious rearing.

    We did a lot of fasting, especially during Lent. My best friends were Jewish and we'd all compare our fasting days and try to decide who had it best, worst, etc. I remember one year on Yom Kippur that my friend and I had football tickets to a UCLA/USC game that started about an hour before sunset. Her mom was having a fit about her leaving before sunset, but her dad was saying it would be fine if she just didn't eat. So, I promised that I wouldn't allow a morsel of food to pass her lips until the sun set!! I kept my promise. My friend was holding a hot dog inches from her mouth saying, "Now?" "No, not yet!" "Now?" "Not yet!" She starts leaning, as if I'm gonna fall for that lol, & I'm telling her to just wait! All the people near us were joining in & finally, I say, "OKAY, NOW!" and she takes a bite while all our section is cheering for her!

    Sunday are truly days of rest around here. After church we come home to a simple meal and we just relax. We always take a nap, read, or something quiet. I love that there's no guilt involved or the need to talk myself into doing something. Nope. I tell myself and husband, "It's a day to rest. God said so." Honestly, who wants to argue with that? It's wonderful!

    1. LOL Debby! You crack me up. That's a great memory, and just goes to show that traditions yield their own moments of hilarity! Awesome that the crowd joined in, and clearly were sympathetic to the scenario :) I love what you said about 'no guilt involved'. That is key. And yes, who can argue with 'God says so'. Indeed. Love, Mimi xxx

  6. Loved your post, Mimi. As a life long Catholic, we were raised with Sunday as a day of worship and rest. We have never shopped or done any unnecessary work. Have always followed this in raising my own family. It truly sets Sunday apart as special, dedicated to the Lord, family and rest. My favorite day of the week.

    1. Thankyou. Yes you're right. It sets Sunday apart as special. I love that thought. Mimi xxx

  7. I was not raised in any faith per say but did manage to find my own way to church with friends. ;) My mother did sing in one of the church choirs when I was really young, so I did learn about Jesus there and was sad when we stopped going. I was confused as to why we left and finally asked my mom years later when I was a teenager. Her answer was that we had moved and it was no longer convenient to go. For her, it was all about singing in the choir and really had nothing to do with faith.

    As my husband and I had a family of our own, we quickly realized that Sunday was anything but a day of rest when trying to get everyone dressed and out the door to church on time. ;) Our church obligations were also very time consuming and were not limited to just Sundays. We finally got to a point where we all were getting burnt out and the travel to and from church were taking up a huge chunk of our time also. We were driving an hour each way at one point.

    Our kids are now grown and all of them are pretty strong in their faith, which I love. I have my quiet time with God and so does my husband. Sundays are our only day together for a full day with his work schedule so there are times when we try to pack way too much into Sundays and other times when I ask that we just stay home, not do too much around the house and just relax. Life is a balancing act it seems and I am still trying to learn that balance.

    1. Dear Debbie, well I guess so long as choir led your Mom to church, and gave you your grounding in faith, it's a good thing. Ahhh....I hear you on getting everyone out the door on time. That was my Mothers nightmare! We did not have a car back then either, so we had to be ready on time for another willing member of the congregation to collect us. Yes, all eight of us! Sometimes we were squished together like candles in a box. So funny! I agree that life is a balancing act, and one where we all try to fulfill the areas of family, fun, spiritual life (whatever that means to you), financial wellbeing, and good health. In the end we all do what is best for our own family. It sounds like you're doing that. Mimi xxx

  8. What a great Topic, thank you for posting this. Really well written and got me to thinking. Thank you again, I am going to reread your post and think some more on it.

    1. Thankyou Hilogene. That is always my make you think. I am pleased to have done so. Love, Mimi xxx

  9. Oh how we groaned on a Sunday - getting dressed in our Sunday best - scratchy collars, tight shoes, droning minister and silly songs. That was my world view as a kid but fast forward and reflect on the benefits and you have a set of rules to live by and boundaries that really work and a spiritual side that feeds your soul. We do live in interesting times and I'm often surprised at how many young people are shopping for spirituality. I hope they find something as positive as yours.


I love hearing from you! I always respond to comments, so don't be shy! Mimi xxx