No Guilt Sunday

Sunday morning, 10:22, and I am having my first outdoor table time of the season.  I’m at our little, round, newly wiped down, outdoor table perched on a similarly prepared metal mesh chair.  Babe the Stone Pig sits stoically behind me, blue baseball hat fastener pulled jauntily over her snout.  Greta the Live Dog stands tensely, loosely chained, to my left, sniffing the air, listening to the birds, gauging whether this outdoor stuff is to her prissy liking.

It is Sunday morning, and I haven’t–sigh–gone to church.  And,–despite a tightly wimpled voice rooted deep in my psyche, a voice that says, “He gave up his LIFE for you, and you can’t give up an HOUR on Sunday morning?”, — I am feeling, truly, no guilt.

Please don’t misunderstand–this is not a diatribe against organized religion.  I really like my organized church, and the organized book club that meets on Sunday mornings before organized services.  I like reading things of spiritual nature in company and wrestling with our individual understandings in a group.  I like the service that follows, and the fellowship of kind and caring congregants.  I appreciate our pastor’s sermons; they are thoughtful and depth-filled, and I take notes on my bulletin and come home and look things up on the internet, or request books he’s mentioned at our library.

My church both gives me perspective and broadens my perspective.

But. Some Sundays…

Mark and I have overlapping weekends. His is Saturday and Sunday.  Mine is Sunday and Monday.  The only non-work morning we have as a family is this one, this Sunday one, and it’s usually fine that I run off to join the book group, Mark meets me for services, and Jim stays home to ask, “How was it?” when we arrive back just before noon so we can lunch together.

This late winter/early spring, however, has been busy.  Busy is good in many ways–busy means involved and somehow vital to someone or -ones, something or -things.

Sometimes, though, I picture little clumps of leisure time rolling tantalizingly on life’s Astroturf.  There I am, further down on the field, fussily doing all my oh-so-essential little things, and thinking of those lovely clumps of time I’ll gather up soon.

Then a clanking roar swells up and an enormous, battered, iron and copper contraption lumbers speedily onto the playing field.  It has a jointed snout and obvious power, and it rushes over to the leisure time clumps and it sucks those babies up, wheels around in its ungainly efficiency, and swiftly disappears.

The time-sucker leaves me whining and bemoaning and sadly in need of a Sunday morning at home.  That brings me to this little table, a soft spring breeze, and a well-fed family.

This morning we did what passes in late, late middle age, for sleeping in–we stayed in bed till after seven, till our helpful bladders reminded us we’re a long, long way from 30–or even 40–and till an inquisitive little dog snout an inch from my face reminded me that–HELLO! — my bladder might not be the only consideration here.  And we got up and wandered drowsily downstairs.

I leashed the dog and we trotted out into the front yard, where the annoyed Deer Bunch huffed, showing us the white sides of their tails as they left our sweet grass and went to explore the neighbor’s, across the street.  The daffodils swayed cheerily, there was a swell of excited birdsong, and the Sunday papers waited, full of promise and crosswords, on the front walk. A big fat bee bumbled harmlessly around me, and a voice in my mind spoke to me sweetly.

“You have,” it reminded me, “all the ingredients for Heath bar coffee cake.”

That voice was louder and much more convincing than the wimpled one. And so this Sunday morning found me–after saying my solitary prayers in the morning stillness–doing the Sunday crossword across the table from my husband, who snorted his way through the op-ed section. His muttered commentary was an accompaniment to the creaking of my fuzzy brain into some kind of life as I searched for a word that floated, like a message in one of those eight-ball prophecy toys, just the other side of awareness.

And I caught up on four weeks’ worth of uncut coupons, and I got on the internet and printed out the Heath Bar Toffee Coffee Cake recipe.

Jim came downstairs around nine o’clock; by then, the coffee cake was almost ready to emerge from the oven.  I heated one of my old cast iron skillets, drizzled in it a little olive oil, and sautéed the week’s remaining ham in the sizzle.  When that was crisp and fragrant, I poured in six eggs, nicely beaten, and, as that scrambled, pulled the coffee cake from the oven.  Its toffee bar topping oozed in a golden brown crust; I grated Asiago onto the scramble and threw some grated cheddar, left over from Thursday’s fajitas, on top of that.

We poured blueberry pomegranate juice into our mismatched glasses, and we tenderly leveraged that oozey chocolate mess onto our plates, sidled cheesy eggs up next to that, and sat down to a Sunday brunch.  And we talked and planned and felt the tight winding of our weekly clocks ease a little.

This morning I beat the time sucker to one of those nice little clumps of leisure time, and I relaxed and listened to my boyos talk.  I wandered through the neighborhood with our neurotic little dog, and I watched the field of daffodils at the old folks’ home on the corner nodding expansively to one another. And I brought my I-Pad out to this little table, and I lost all track of time.

I will emerge from this lovely tunnel; I will do the dishes, make the bed, and put on my outdoor face so we can head to a support group gathering in Columbus this afternoon .  Greased, our wheels will gather speed, and we will ride them into a nicely busy week.

Most Sundays, my time at church undergirds my being and helps me reflect and prepare.  Every once in a while, though–and today was one of those days–a morning at home, a breakfast leisurely prepared and shared with a couple of Zanghi boys, time to walk, and time to appreciate, is a necessary balm.

******** PS–You can find the Heath Bar Toffee Coffee Cake recipe at


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