As an employee of The Dayton Company Dollie was well aware of the policies of George Draper Dayton. The office dress rules were only one manifestation of Mr. Dayton’s character. As a Christian of his day he took to heart the 4th Commandment:
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” Exodus 20: 8-11
Therefore the store was of course closed. No employee was allowed to enter or work. There would be no Dayton advertisements in the Sunday paper. ( In fact Mr. Dayton allowed no advertisements in any paper ever that accepted liquor ads.) Dollie told me that late on Saturday the store workers pulled down the shades on all the store windows so as not to advertise merchandise to any Sunday strollers. All business ceased on the Sabbath.
My own grandparents often had company for Sunday dinner, but Grandma did all meal preparation on Saturday, only turning on the oven Sunday for the roast. In our childhoods Sundays were quiet days of Sunday School and church, family dinners and visiting. The normal domestic tasks of home and yard had happened on Saturday. Asking friends my age about Sabbath-keeping in the past all remember similar muted days. No work. No worldly activities like going to the movies or playing organized sports. Of course there would be no shopping since all department and grocery stores were closed.
It’s not that regular interactions were not erupting. Getting many children ready for church was often stressful – just as it was for me in those kid-raising years: scrubbed bodies, combed hair, starchy clothes, verses memorized, prodded slow-pokes, anxious mother. And many active boys rebelled from the constraint of having to remain in their “church clothes”, sitting idly for an afternoon. It’s undoubtedly one of the reasons that Fritz, my father-in-law, ran off to the Navy at 17 – and the reason that we gave more rein to our boys.
Sabbath ceasing [means] to cease not only from work itself, but also from the need to accomplish and be productive, from the worry and tension that accompany our modern criterion of efficiency, from our efforts to be in control of our lives as if we were God, from our possessiveness and our enculturation, and finally, from the humdrum and meaninglessness that result when life is pursued without the Lord at the center of it all. Marva J. Dawn
There were exceptions made, grace freely offered when appropriate, of course. I even remember a day when Grandma, (who may have never seen a movie herself,) gave us a dollar and permission to walk to the Parkway theater on Chicago Ave. for a Sunday matinee. (We were probably driving her to distraction, reason enough to break the 4th Commandment!)
My brother Mike tells of a time when his baseball team had progressed to the tournament, a game which would be played on Sunday afternoon. When he asked during the week if he could play our folks said no. After church on Sunday Dad took him aside and said he had changed his mind. He said one reason was that Mike had taken the refusal without creating a stew. And then Dad said, “Sometimes we realize that rules are made for people who are too lazy to make decisions.” My Dad was always a man who easily comprehended and lived by the spirit of a law.
Back then (and now) people often minded the rules and missed the joy.
“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” Mark 2:27
God blessed this day and made it holy and by doing so declared – and declares just how good creation is. God took pleasure in what he had made – no regrets, no trying to make a still better world – or better men and women. He spent time with his creatures. He longs to do so still.
It’s obvious that we’ve lost something precious when Sunday is just another day like all days. It’s happened with the advent of television and consumerism and success-driven ideology. People deride Sunday “blue laws” and fill mall parking lots. Few of us can claim innocence in messing with the Sabbath. Certainly not I.
But on this day of giving thanks I want to come alive to the gift of a day, set apart for rest – and for joy. Is it too late to recover the wonder of such a day? They were not called the “Ten Suggestions” after all.
The freedom, rest and joy of the Sabbath consist in the fact that on this day man is released from his daily work. On the Sabbath he does not belong to his work. Nor is it merely a question of having to recuperate from the work that lies behind him and to fortify himself for the new tasks that are ahead. On the Sabbath he belongs to himself. Whether he be farmer, artisan, servant or maid, he is just the man who for six days had to be these things and to perform the corresponding tasks, but whose being and existence are more than all these things . . .That he does not strive in vain towards this goal; that his work cannot devour him but consists of steps towards this goal, is confirmed at the end of each week by the proffered freedom, rest and joy of the workless Sabbath which he is granted. It is this which gives perspective and depth, meaning and lustre, to all his weeks, and therefore to his whole time, as well as to the work which he performs in his time. Karl Barth
Wishing all my May 1st Everlasting friends a beautiful Thanksgiving! I am thankful for each of you – and quite amazed that you continue to visit on Thursdays.
I will end with two quotes which in many ways reflect for me the Sabbath gift –
The room is quiet. You’re not feeling tired enough to sleep or energetic enough to go out. For the moment there is nowhere else you’d rather go, no one else you’d rather be. You feel at home in your body. You feel at peace in your mind. For no particular reason, you let the palms of your hands come together and close your eyes. Sometimes it is only when you happen to taste a crumb of it that you dimly realize what it is that you’re so hungry for you can hardly bear it. –Frederick Buechner on Sabbath, from Wishful Thinking
. . and the last words of Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder:
When the fiddle had stopped singing Laura called out softly, “What are days of auld lang syne, Pa?”
“They are the days of a long time ago, Laura,” Pa said. “Go to sleep, now.”
But Laura lay awake a little while, listening to Pa’s fiddle softly playing and to the lonely sound of the wind in the Big Woods. She looked at Pa sitting on the bench by the hearth, the fire-light gleaming on his brown hair and beard and glistening on the honey-brown fiddle. She looked at Ma, gently rocking and knitting.
She thought to herself, “This is now.”
She was glad that the cosy house, and Pa and Ma and the fire-light and the music, were now. They could not be forgotten, she thought, because now is now. It can never be a long time ago.
Daniel Barenboim playing Beethoven’s Pathetique; Sonata No. 8 in C minor, Op. 13, 2nd movement, concert no. 3. . . .