Time to slow down, listen


If you’re my age or older, you may remember when we couldn’t go to a store and buy anything on any Sunday. Blue laws were in effect then. Also known as Sunday laws, blue laws were designed to restrict or ban some or all Sunday activities for religious reasons, particularly to promote a day of worship or rest. They were called blue laws because the new law was first written on blue paper.

We live in a different time now. Malls and big-box stores are open seven days a week, and it’s not unusual for convenience stores to never close. It’s hard to grasp when the focus of Sunday was family and going to church.

That’s the way it was when I was growing up, and no one thought much about it. We just didn’t know that it was even a possibility to go to a store on Sunday. I suppose that was partly because there wasn’t as much disposable income then for shopping. Plus the media wasn’t in our faces all the time telling us what we needed to buy to be smarter, prettier, and trendier.

While blue laws changed with more emphasis on the separation of church and state, there are still a handful of states where they are in effect. In Iowa, they have to do with the sale of alcohol. And one can’t buy a vehicle on a Sunday.

Remembering when we couldn’t shop on Sundays came up when I was with a couple of friends recently, as we all rather sadly wondered just why it’s becoming more common for youth activities to be scheduled for Sundays. We all felt bad about this trend. It’s almost as if we’ve so completely filled up the other six days of the week that now we must move on to Sundays, too. I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with having a day to rest, to take a breath, and to appreciate our blessings. Somehow, it seems like our culture now embraces the current approach to squeezing every last minute out of each day of the week. Including Sundays.

It’s not that these youth activities are bad; it’s just that it’s so easy for families–and all of us–to get wound so tightly that we don’t have an opportunity to just be. Keeping up with jobs and school and sports and extended family too often just doesn’t allow us time to breathe and to embrace who and what is all around us.

If we aren’t careful, the holiday season only adds to the pace, when it should be a time to slow down, listen, and watch.