Our first Sunday in England was a lesson in the purpose of Sundays. For years, our family has seldom left for church all together–all four of us at the same time. My responsibilities as a minister required that I leave hours ahead of the rest of the family. Often I would not even see the children before I left for the church.
The new normal affords us the opportunity to get ready for and travel to church together. This morning things were a little disheveled, however. We are still living from our suitcases. Necessary items are still undiscovered. So the morning became a flurry of activity as we searched for pants, socks, shoes, belts, etc. Each one of us was missing something at some point. I’m still not sure how we figured it all out. My feet felt a little constrained–probably because I was wearing Joshua’s socks.
We made it to the bus stop ahead of schedule. Whew. The church was too far away to walk on our first day. We took the short bus ride into the City Centre. After church, we headed into the City Centre for a look around. It was full of people, who didn’t seem to be in a hurry to go anywhere. They casually sat around the square talking, eating, and enjoying the day. Families were on walks together. People were going nowhere in particular and taking their time getting there.
We caught the bus back home for some lunch and to read the Sunday Times. About 5pm we headed out to the store. We needed a few food items for supper and a few things for the house. We walked the half mile to the 24 hour HUGE Tesco Extra. Wouldn’t you know it? Closed. They are only open a few hours Sunday afternoons and we missed them. Even the 24hour store took a break on Sunday. The other stores in the shopping center were all closed. The streets were quiet and no one seemed to stir.
Researchers tell us that fewer than 10% of Britons regularly participate in church worship services. However, Americans–myself included–could learn from the Britons’ remembrance to slow down on Sundays. The pace of the finish of the day was much slower than the start of it. It was a welcome change. It was a reminder to me of what is important and who are the important ones.
So, when in Rome, er Durham… We went back to the house, cooked dinner with what we had, watched a family movie together, and talked to family in the States. Now that is a welcome change of pace.