By Elizabeth Prata
I always thought the Sunday nap was because I was tired. During quarantine, I’ve begun to think otherwise.
And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. (Genesis 2:2-3).
I’m blessed to have a regular Monday-through-Friday work week, daytime hours. On Saturday I run around and do errands and cleaning and stuff that I’ve put off during the work week. So it’s like a 6th work day. Thus, when I get to Sunday, I’m tired. I go to church and I take a nap, and that is about all I do.
But during this time of pandemic where we are told to remain socially distant from others, work has stopped, I’m quarantined inside my home. I am not tired on most days anymore. Oh, sure, when the work-stoppage first occurred, I napped to burn off the sleep debt and stress that had accumulated. But after the first week of quarantine, the need for naps stopped.
Except on Sunday.
Brian Doyle at The American Scholar wrote of the Sunday nap: it is a nap unlike any day’s nap,
But the Sunday afternoon nap—that is allowed, permitted, acknowledged as custom and habit and tradition; we will not go so far as to say that it is actively encouraged, but it is privileged, it elicits no disapproval or moaning when you announce quietly that you will be in absentia for the next hour, and you remind your domestic compatriots that all loud noises are now to be terminated, these including and comprising shouting, television, fisticuffs, that thumping screeching vulgar ear-assault you call music, shrieking, whining, bickering, debating, arguing, running in the house, enticing the dog to howl, enticing the dog to chase you roaring excitedly through the house, and/or mowing the lawn, as if any of you had the slightest intention of mowing the lawn anyway.
I’ve begun to wonder … Did God instill in each of us a sort of innate slowdown? Like, when you’re at the carnival and you’re on the carts and as the ride ends, then all the carts jerk and then slow down as they get to the end of the time? Did God put a slowdown into us as he presides over the Sabbath Day and its holiness, and His modeling for us the rest that He desires us to have? After the blur of the week passes, does God instill a slow down that either causes or allows us to nap?
As the blur of the hectic week subsides into the weekend, many of us seek a Sunday nap.
Sweet is the sleep of a laborer, whether he eats little or much, but the full stomach of the rich will not let him sleep. (Ecclesiastes 5:12)
In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for bread to eat–for He gives sleep to His beloved. (Psalm 127:2)
Charles Spurgeon wrote in the Treasury of David, of the Psalm 127:2,
He rests them; blesses them while resting; blesses them more in resting than others in their moiling and toiling. God is sure to give the best thing to his beloved, and we here see that he gives them sleep—that is a laying aside of care, a forgetfulness of need, a quiet leaving of matters with God: this kind of sleep is better than riches and honour. Note how Jesus slept amid the hurly burly of a storm at sea. He knew that he was in his Father’s hands, and therefore he was so quiet in spirit that the billows rocked him to sleep:
If you keep wisdom and discretion, my son, says the Preacher, then,
If you lie down, you will not be afraid;
when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
Secular people can’t keep the Sabbath holy, because they are at enmity with God. (Romans 8:7). But they slow down and perhaps, just perhaps, think of God on the seventh day, His creation efforts, then resting and blessing His day holy. Most people know the verse ‘on the seventh day God rested.’
Christians think of God on His Sabbath day, of course. We attend church, sing, learn, fellowship, praise, and pray. All the things. We are supposed to think of God each day but the 7th day is holy and blessed especially. We think of God in a deeper way, perhaps, in the Sabbath. When we Sunday nap, does God do a work in us? Does the Spirit in us knit His words into our cells, enlarge our heart for Him, sweep a tide of love in our bodies, transform the mind?
The Sunday nap. A peculiar thing.