My Father on Sunday Morning

On a quiet Sunday morning such as this, it is only natural to remember my father sitting at our old kitchen table with his coffee and cigar, reading the paper or puzzling over the family�s finances, the radio tuned to old-time Protestant hymns.

It was a privilege for me to wake up early and find him there. If it was summer, it was certain that he would already be wearing his work shoes, because, although he didn�t work on Sundays, it was necessary to look after the irrigation in the vineyard. When I was up in time, I would go out with him. If he had already been out, I would join him later to check the water�s progress.

On Sunday, a magical quiet settled over the countryside. There was little traffic on the road in front of the house. Seldom was a tractor heard. After putting in a long, hard week, farmers had earned a rest.

Then, one by one, as the morning progressed, the Mennonites trailed into town for church. And one by one, they trailed back again � as did the Lutherans, Methodists, and Presbyterians, and anyone else who was religiously inclined � mothers with their children, grandmothers, widows, old men with suspenders and ties, younger men stuffed uncomfortably into suits, their sunburned necks showing above their collars. On the way in: serious. On the way home: relieved.

Secretly, I knew that the ones who stayed home were the smart ones, for whatever a person might seek was already there in the sacred silence � just as it is here, in this silence, now.

Let the engines rest,
leave off the deodorant
and painful shoes,
everywhere you look,
the spirit moves.

My father sees me in the doorway. I see him, bathed in the morning light.

May 7, 2006

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