SHOE SHINE TIME
It is great in these times that 7-11 still sees fit to run their Western Monasticism special of free Slurpees on the Feast of St. Benedict. Do they still have the motto of “Oh, thank heaven for 7-11”?
As much fun as sports are, close losses are always hard to take. Recently, in non-athletic contests, 5-4 has been a pretty hard score to swallow. By this vote, our nation has codified the violation of quite a few Commandments. Let’s see, the first, the fourth, the fifth, the sixth, the eighth and the ninth all seem to be directly or indirectly rejected by those slim majority votes. It might be, however, that the regular violation of a different law by those who side with the minority opinion could be found to be a root cause of all this.
Last night Mom went to bed but stayed awake for quite a while. I began talking to her about things of yore, which followed upon saying that it wouldn’t be long before kids were back in school. That led to talking about going to town [Fort Morgan] to buy school shoes each August when the sales were on. And that led to reminiscing about polishing our shoes each Saturday night in preparation for Sunday Mass.
Shoe polishing never was a task – it was always a pleasure. We would get out sheets of newspaper and put them on the floor or on the table; get out the proper color of shoe polish from the tiny little cupboard above the ice box; [There were three little cupboards in a row, one with shoe polish, one with alka-seltzer and aspirin and one that we never opened.] then we’d find our shoes – often a problem for me — and start polishing.
In the cosmic dimension of things, it was very small, but in the personal realm it was very big. There was this special preparation for the Sabbath – Sundays were different than any other day, and shoes should be shined.
This brings us to the third commandment. Having polished shoes is not directly “keeping Holy the Sabbath” but it is related. There are many little things that go into reminding us to keep Holy the Sabbath and society used to contribute to that remembrance because we couldn’t make Sunday a shopping day because stores were closed.
Sunday was different when we came home from Mass. It was Mom’s day off from cooking. Usually there was hamburger that was thawing on the kitchen counter for anyone to make his own meal from. I’m sure this violated all sorts of health rules, but it sat out most of the day until it had given up all the hamburgers it could provide. Dad would sometimes pop popcorn – no microwaves then, so it was kernels in a skillet shaken back and forth over the stovetop flame. We also got to go downstairs and pick out our pop of the week. It was canned generic pop – crème soda, lemon lime, grape, root beer – all the great flavors. Each of us would nurse our can of pop of the week throughout Sunday, taking little sips and then returning it to the ice box. The other typical Sunday thing was some sporting event which corresponded to the season. Dave and Jim would be against the three little kids – Kath, Barb and me. It was not really a fair contest, and I would often quit mad, which violated the spirit of the game and of Sunday.
All these little things contributed in early childhood to making Sunday very different, except that I was a sore loser every day of the week. I do not know if these little things were in the mind of Our Lord Who commanded us to keep holy the Sabbath, but they at least have to be considered on the periphery. All of us squeezed into the current family station wagon riding to Mass maybe was more in line with Divine thought – the family that crams together in a vehicle, stays together. And then the whole congregation of Our Lady of Lourdes was crammed together in our undersized church. No one probably noticed that our shoes were all polished, but we knew that they were as we gave worship.
I think that by and large there is less of the peripheral ways of keeping holy the Sabbath these days. In the clothes worn, the rituals performed, the pastimes pursued. Pop is drunk as much on Tuesday as on Sunday; moms maybe cook even more elaborately on Sunday than other day; cars are more spacious that we ride to Mass in – or whatever used to be in one’s family on a Sunday that is no more. Perhaps it is most clearly seen in that Sunday is another shopping day, hard to find a store that is not open because the dollar is to be made as readily on Sunday as it is on Wednesday, and so it must be that those who know and want to keep holy the Sabbath have “given in” in this little way which might not be peripherally at all. A chink in the armor that’s led to a breach in wall.
Jezu, ufam Tobie.