[Jesus wondering why you say you love that smoothie.]
I spent an indulgent hour this week, meandering around the internet, saving articles I am sure I will someday have time to read. My box is full up with scintillating politics, history, art, and social commentary. But while I was thus pursuant of all that is interesting and clever, some social media site suggested an ‘article’ to me, and because it had both the word ‘Sunday’ (which I love) and ‘Self Care’ (which I hate) I had to click on it. To tempt you into clicking as well, here is the title: JENNIFER ANISTON’S SELF-CARE SUNDAY ROUTINE IS SOOTHING AND SCRUMPTIOUS. I’m not sure why it has to be in all caps, but there are many mysterious properties of the internet that I don’t even begin to hope to understand.
I don’t know what you are doing right now, as you read this, but I am lying in bed at the dark and terrible hour of 4am. I didn’t sleep well because some curious person kept setting off fireworks somewhere on this street, even though it is long past the Fourth of July. Also, in a desperate anxiety about being cold, I provided myself with too many fluffy blankets and ended up wrestling with them, as Jacob with the Angel of the Lord, at the wakeful intervals of firecracker connoisseurship. And then, you know, there was the usual, Oh No, If I Don’t Go To Sleep Now Tomorrow Will Be Wrecked This Is The Only Night Of The Week I Have To Sleep Oh No Oh No. The minutes slip by on the clock and I enumerate to myself how bad it will be if I don’t sleep, which panics me into not sleeping, but then I do manage to nod off, only to be woken by another firecracker.
But when my feet do finally hit the floor, it won’t be for a soothing and scrumptious self care routine. There will be no workout, no spa treatment, no infrared sauna, no one hour of yoga, no large smoothie with dubious tasting but extremely healthy kale and protein powder. Instead I will shove myself into something I don’t really want to wear, listen to the soft bickering of the children, and haul everyone off by 7:30 to spend the day in a place where there are really no comfortable chairs.
But there will be breaking of bread, and it will be sacred–in the true sense of the word, not the ‘it’s basically all about me even if I’m pretending it’s about you’ sense.
Midway through the ‘article’ (those are scare quotes, if you’re wondering) the person writing it links to something called Scary Sunday. You know, you have this beautiful weekend full of facials and pasta with family, you indulge yourself, unwind, tend to your tender ego, battered by the work week, but then on Sunday Evening, when you still should be feeling the effulgent glow, the week to come crowds in and ruins your peace. You start making lists, you start freaking out, you might actually experience depression.
And that is so catastrophic, isn’t it, because all the scrumptious, soothing self care was supposed to mitigate against Exactly That. If you click that link, about scary Sunday, an expert will tell you to move your full throated Panic to Friday before you leave the office. Which sounds a perfect solution. Don’t revel in the satisfaction of a work of week done, put behind you. Don’t pause and take a breath. Just launch right in to the next set of Sisyphean tasks. Write them down so that you can see them and then carry them with you in your pocket to the sauna and the pasta dinner.
Or, and I’m no expert, but I do, like everyone else, have to answer to the looming cloud of existential dread that is the property of modern life, take my advice and practice true self care. Do what I’m planning to do–go to church. It’s an ancient and proven lifestyle choice. Because it’s not just Sunday that’s scary. It’s every day when you have to carry on the illusion of competence, of right living, of perfect health, of beauty that never ages or dies–all on your own, in the dark places your own person.
If it’s just you and your singular life that you hold in the palm of your perfectly manicured hand, you will, even after a lifetime of healthy smoothies, eventually lose it. It will be gone in a poof, a whisper, a mention at the academy awards, a sigh. But if you are willing to lose your life, to go and put your whole being into the palm of a rough Galilean hand, a hand that was pierced, that bled, that was destroyed by the powers and principalities of this world, to let his life be for yours, well then, it’s possible that Sunday will stop being scary and become the Day where you sit in cataclysmic relief, where you rest on the sure and certain foundation of someone else’s life and work.
Anxiety may crowd back over you in the evening as you do face down the week, as you examine the work that you do have to do, but even then you won’t be alone–just you and your high priced spinning instructor. No, even then, the One to whom you gave your life will be there, always, trampling down death by death.
Go to the spa another day. Go to church on Sunday. It’s the best place to experience and indulge in God’s lavish ‘self’–as in you–preserving care.