Sunday wears a crown, and has a golden beard and a ring.
Sunday sings his psalms, and laughs and jokes,
and teaches his lessons in a booming voice.
And all creatures sleep in the peace of the earth,
and the earth in Sunday’s hand. *
I like this poem, particularly the last two lines; true, the mystical aspect of it is of less importance to me than to the poet, but the image and feelings he conjures up go right to the heart of my own Sunday self.
For as long as Beloved and I have been together I have made our Sundays stand out. The only exceptions have been the Sundays when he had a Sunday engagement, an afternoon concert, say, in some spa town, or at summer festivals. Moonlighting at weekends. If I went along we’d usually have a quick pizza between rehearsal and concert, which was all that was on offer in places like Tunbridge Wells or Brighton. Things might have changed a bit since then.
Until we met and moved in together, Sundays were nothing special to Beloved. Many English people use Sunday for d-i-y jobs, shopping trips, household chores. During my years of single-parenting and a full-time job I did as much as I could on Saturdays and always attempted to keep Sundays free; admittedly, mainly to recover from the past week and recharge batteries for the week following. There was a lot of solitary putting up of feet, involving listening to music and reading. The kids were old enough to amuse themselves and happy doing it. All three of us enjoyed solitude. except at Sunday dinner, which was a far more elaborate meal than weekday ones.
In my years with Beloved I have kept up the custom of making our Sunday meal special. Three courses with wine are the minimum requirements. Not that I do all the cooking, I might buy something at the delicatessen’s, certainly the starter, and sometimes the pudding too. But we sit and eat at leisure, savouring the food, sipping a glass of something pleasant, and talking. Talking is the main ingredient. it’s almost as if sitting at table fires up neurons and loosens the tongue. We are never at a loss for topics, even now. We might start by remarking on the weather: “Isn’t it still today, not a leaf stirring”/ or: "Heavens, just listen to that rain pounding the glass roof (of the conservatory)”. Then there are compliments about the food and, after careful sipping of the wine, a remark about how pleasant it all is. We'll mention what we did during the week, recall people we met, a play we saw, maybe a lecture we attended. Because it’s Sunday and Sundays are for being kind, I keep criticism to a minimum. Beloved is always kind, even on weekdays. Until we reach politics, current affairs and the deplorable state of beastly humanity, as evidenced by scores of examples daily. We never have to look far. We might not always agree on the causes or the strategies of amelioration; the debate could even get quite heated. It’s amazing how (mildly) reactionary I have become with age, when I was accused, for most of my life, of being “your textbook bleeding heart liberal’.
In this fashion we spend a good two hours being friends and enjoying each other, until Millie nags me into getting up and feeding her. She has her second meal of the day at 3pm on the dot and woe betide me if I forget. So I don’t. Usually.
And after that? Like the creatures in the poem we “sleep in the peace of the earth”. The wine might have had something to do with that.
transl. from the Spanish by J.M.Cohen