Slow Sundays and Fall Festivals

The past two Sundays have been marked by slowness, which is how I prefer my Sundays. After a full week with family members going in every direction, we need a day of rest. I know I do, and I imagine that you do, too. Right now, I'm teaching a large course load and the grading is real, especially now that we've hit the midpoint of the semester. On the home front, we're working to help our kids navigate their own challenges with school, emotions, and life, a process that often feels weighty unto itself.

 

But Sundays? Sundays invite rest. Last weekend, this rest came in the form of a quick trip to a fall festival. For as long as I can remember, barring the year that disappeared to Covid, we've enjoyed this festival as a family for its hayride and pumpkin patch. This year, I attended solo. My only goal was to pick up take-out quarts of their homemade vegetable beef and ham-and-bean soups, homemade rolls, and a few whoopie pies for an indulgent dessert. Dinner should be simple on Sundays.



I was in no rush. I skirted the crowds who waited in line for the hayride, and I smiled at my own memories when I watched parents taking pictures of toddlers who rode the train pulled by a John Deere tractor. Those days with my own kids feel long ago. I walked the perimeter of the festival as an observer more than a participant, taking in the bins of colorful gourds, the barnyard animals, the corrugated metal outbuildings, and the stacked pumpkins.

While I know there's nothing simple or easy about running a farm, as I crossed he grounds in my boots and flannel, everything felt simpler, as if I had momentarily stepped into a scene that -- at least for the day -- was designed to bring comfort to the body and the soul.








And today, one Sunday later, in between the standard tasks of going through my email inboxes, completing paperwork for upcoming school conferences, making a grocery list for the week, and knocking out more grading, I took an hour to visit an outdoor field sale. A dozen vendors had set up booths, displaying their wares like one large eclectically gathered yard sale.

 

It felt right. It felt right to walk through a field, my hands tucked into my pockets since I'm not yet acclimated to October's crisp temperatures. It felt right to browse the merchandise, decorations, and trinkets. It felt right to chat with a man about his homemade soup recipe, to tell a woman that she definitely should buy the jacket she was considering (it looked great on her), and to listen to the stories from the woman who had displayed several precious old photos of her late mother's classmates from when they had been high school students in the 1940's. I pored over those black and white photos of nameless young women, wondering what the years had brought them. Had they found love? Had they faced loss? Had they married? Had children? What heartache and joys had they seen? What stories could they have told me?

In part, the time felt right because the hour was spent meandering, moving slowly, letting myself take in the scenes, the people, and my own thoughts. Someone had placed a fire pit in the center of the field, like a wheel axle that all vendor booths revolved around, inviting me to stand and warm my hands.

 


Thank God for slow Sundays, fall festivals, and rest. These festivities and events aren't insignificant or superfluous. In a small way, they're holy, like a brief reprieve from relentless weeks. Slow Sundays are sometimes just what our souls need.

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