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  • Writer's pictureDaniel Baker


It was a Sunday. It was Sunday this morning when I trooped down the stairs with bags under my eyes, and blindly reached for the coffee pot to restore my vision. It was Sunday as I ate my breakfast with unusual concentration and focus on my Honey Nut O’s and I might now be able to tell you all the different stages in which Honey Nut O’s chemically react to milk. It was also Sunday during my listless routine of showering, running a comb through my hair, shaving, and putting on my church clothes. Sunday was soaking through the pores of the house and flooding our quiet living room.

But to my still wearied eyes, I did not see that Sunday had not proceeded to follow us out the door of our house and cast its rays over our drive. If this was a Norman Rockwell painting, then I would have seen young, handsome couples, dressed in their nicest clothes, dragging their children by the hand as they reply to the doorman of the church “How are you! Good morning! Isn’t it wonderful outside!”, while their children pull at their tight collars and stomp the dirt from their shoes on the floor. But yet, to my frequent disappointment, not one aspect of this amiable scene did I discover as we drove through downtown Apex. I heard no church bells resonating off the walls of the houses(not that the chiming of an old bell was ever a frequent sound in my life); I saw no families huffing and puffing to make it into the auditorium in fear that the preacher would declare all hell and fury upon them; nor did I feel the all-embracing quiet such as a child dwells in during the Christmas season while they fearfully anticipate the opening of presents.

What I did see was this: too many teenagers going in and out of shops and skateboarding down the narrow sidewalk. Their parents and their chairs must both be gravely mourning their absence. I saw the usual runners (crazed fanatics) chugging down the street, almost keeping up with my passenger-side window. I saw too many locals walking their dogs and calling another dog-walker on their phone while simultaneously carrying on a conversation with their spouse. And I also saw bedraggled man, washing his white Camry (which was practically blinding to the eyes as it reflected the refulgence of the August sun) while humming to himself. The sun baked his thin, greasy hair and the few wisps of it soaked his face with sweat. Though I only saw him for a second, it was a quick glimpse of a regular episode on our Sunday drives. The fact is, I saw too many people on my drive.

I wonder what day it is to them?

Sunday warmly greeted us again during the morning worship as most of us sang out of key or too high for comfort. Yet, the harmony of the congregation brought a familiar catharsis on me, a feeling as though the weight of the past week, had been loosed from my shoulders and placed in the hands of a great protector. We wept, prayed, and praised again. At the end of worship, we sang an older tune that my mother used to hum to me when me or my four siblings would lay sick in bed, which was in the mind of a six-year-old, aided by his overreaching imagination, practically death’s doorstep. How wonderful it was to hear those same words bring tears to my face instead of washing them away. How accessible God is, speaking to us through four lines:

“Holy God in love became

Perfect man to bear my blame

On that cross he took my sin

By his death I live again.”

My father preached to the yawning congregation that what God has gifted his children through the Bible, is not merely a book of stories of his goodness, but a testimony of his character, and it is a matter of first importance.

I wonder what this book is to the man washing his car? Wasted time?

The sun was high when I left, and I could feel the back of my shirt stick to the seat of the car as I drove to lunch on the corner of North Salem Street, the street that runs through downtown Apex. Our waiter was an older Italian man who carried a big voice and an accent but whether it was a New Jersey or a Brooklyn accent, I couldn’t make out. You could tell from the bags under his eyes and his short quick questions that he had been at the restaurant for a while, “while” meaning hours or possibly years. As I ate my pizza, I watched him interrogate a young family with grunts that became even deeper and shorter as the family took longer and longer to decide. After lunch, I decided to drive home and catch up on some rest. I pulled my car into my driveway, pulled the seat back, and closed my eyes. I listened to the crickets chirping and felt the afternoon sun melt the inside of the car.

I wonder what day it was to our pizza waiter? Sunday must only be a rumor to him.

I’m not sure what Sunday means for you, but to me it resembles a Norman Rockwell painting or an Andy Griffith Show ending scene. It is letting yourself sink to the bottom of the couch while also sinking to the bottom of one of E.B. White’s essays. But of course, it is first and foremost, a day of spiritual rest, and a day of begging for repentance for your past, present, and future sins. Maybe what these sabbath morn episodes depict, is a community that is increasingly forgetting the practice of spiritual rest, or maybe it is the same as it has always been. Either way, if you desire to grasp the culture and values of your community, take a drive on Sunday morning and write down what you see. Is the man still washing his Camry at the Jiffy Lube, or is that parking space empty?

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