A few things happened in quick succession this summer and together, they get the credit for inspiring Reclaiming Sunday Supper.
1. There was a hilarious Facebook meme going around, which began, "I'm so West Michigan, I . . ." and had people filling in the blank with stories about back in the day, when you could ride your bike to the corner store for cheap candy -- and buy your mom's smokes with a note signed by her. Someone in my feed, who grew up here, moved away, and is now a local media professional, wrote, "I'm so West Michigan, I can remember when you got in trouble for washing your car and mowing your lawn on Sunday." It triggered predictably fascinating comments, with those who are new to town expressing curiosity and amusement that Sundays used to be so strict around here, and those who grew up here chiming in with their own sets of antiquated Sunday rules.
2. Our family went to the cabin for a weekend, and I brought along Shauna Niequist's wonderful book, Bread and Wine, to re-read. We invited another family with two little girls to join us, and one morning, after I'd just read Shauna's chapter about House Church (a small group of exquisitely close friends who gathered weekly in each other's homes for meals and friendship), I started a conversation about it with our friends. Was Shauna's experience really true? (They knew her tangentially, and said indeed it was.) Was this kind of committed community even possible these days, with every family we know scheduled to the minute? After we did the dishes that morning, I dangled my toes in the Little Manistee River, and I wondered.
3. A couple of weeks later, the website I manage published a fun profile of a very successful local businesswoman. She's a savvy realtor, a mother, an active community member, and a triathlete. How, the writer asked, does she do it all? Simple, she replied; if it isn't in her calendar, it doesn't happen. She explained how she schedules her life very intentionally, prioritizing time for family, exercise, and travel, then fills in what's available with work. It's not the first time I'd heard this philosophy, but somehow this time everything clicked: the memories of childhood Sundays, with their rejoinder against work; the moving description of House Church, with its unique ability to nourish and support; and the reminder that it's the busiest people who get the most done because they're so intentional with their time.
"There is NO time" is a text I sent my sister-in-law at one point this summer, and it often seems that it's true. At one point last month, I woke up at 4 a.m., looking at the ceiling and worrying in advance about what had become an insanely complicated soccer carpool schedule. (I think it's safe to say the moment you cross over from "a parent with some kids who play some sports" to "a soccer mom" is when you have more than one color-coded Google Drive spreadsheet open on your laptop and you've spent the better part of a week trying to make sense of hundreds of texts and emails about camps, tournaments, practices, and game schedules. But that's neither here nor there.)
Nonetheless, it's September, which is the best month of the year, if you ask me, to begin again. New school year, new schedules, fresh pencils and shoes, and a renewed commitment, after the haze of summer, to bring a little more order to life. To make time for what's important.
It's true; there is still "NO time" -- or, at least, no more than there was before. But our family has been largely having Sunday supper most weeks for the last year or so. We've cobbled together some little traditions around it (all the best traditions are cobbled together ones, no?), involving the lighting of a very ugly blue glass votive candle that one of the girls chose from TJ Maxx a couple years ago and the writing in a gratitude journal about things that we're thankful for on that particular week.
And since we're cooking anyway, we may as well get some people to come sit down and eat with us. Coming off the unscheduled chaos of late summer, when things tend to fall apart and I hardly knew which day it was, not much sounds better than carving out Sundays as a day for heading to church (or, let's be honest, probably the occasional kids' soccer game), coming home to change into elastic waistband pants, and spending the afternoon reading, watching football, hiking, or playing outside while something cooks slowly in the oven. We'll see.