What would you do with a month of Sundays? Well, this month we may get to find out. The idiom is based on the unlikelihood of it ever happening because a month of Sundays is thirty-one months, something no one would ever wait around for. There is also the issue of things changing, which is why a month of Sundays is hardly ever realistic.
Nevertheless, here we are in COVID-19 pandemic trapped in the house with nowhere to go. A whole month of confinement and lockdown. And so we have a month of Sundays that we would otherwise NEVER get. I realized early on that there is something cyclical about this; where every one out of say, seven days is a crabby day. The family nerves are such that those suffering have to tap the brakes a bit and just let it out. At that point, if you are wise you will find something solitary and useful to do.
Hence, I found temporary refuge in the basement, doing something I have long needed to do but never got around to. There is actually a long list of those kind of somethings, because I have been busy as stink as long as I can remember, and a lot of stuff gets put on the side for a rainy day. Some of those, are basic cleaning and maintenance kind of stuff, that you have to just sit down and put some time into.
One of those is sharpening. It’s a basic, and yet it gets neglected. I looked over my planes and chisels and other cutting tools. There are the few cheaper chisels that I reached for in a harried moment, to jimmy something, or to open the proverbial paint can. They were dinged up, covered in paint, and not very sharp. Just sitting around waiting for a month of Sundays, to sharpen up again.
And so it was that I sat down and sharpened by hand. There are faster ways, but sharpening by hand is a series of steps that are slow and deliberate and it seemed to match the occasion. By hand is also slow enough that you can really get in there with some care and attention. There is attention paid to the angle, because if your angles are all over the place, you won’t get any kind of true edge. That’s where a sharpening jig comes in handy so that you can guarantee a constant angle. Then there is a regimen of coarse to fine, and then some honing compound on a piece of leather, or a very flat piece of mdf.
There is something about slow and meditative that is forgotten medicine. I think in the Bible, they call it a Sabbath, that rest day where all the usual stuff gets put on the side, and different considerations take front and centre. There’s a healthy rhythm there that even atheists cannot deny. And so I am having my Sabbath today, calendar notwithstanding. For some odd reason, music seems to go with this mindframe, kind of like the urban myth that playing classical music in a barn will make chickens lay more eggs, or cows give better milk. There may be something to that. Easter having just passed, I called up some Andre Bocelli on the home speaker. Don’t ask me why but there is something about Italian music that seems to go with such meditative tasks as cooking or chisel sharpening, and maybe because it can be truly background. I can focus and just drown the other stuff out. That’s when not understanding Italian may actually be a good thing. It lets my mind wander to the ease of white noise.
And so it is that my chisels got sharpened. Truly, it’s only one of a long list of things needing to be done. When all of this is over, I may actually have my life organized, and it has been a long time coming. The world just won’t let you do the thing you most need, to sit down and take it slow.
I even sharped up my wife’s household knives, the same way, by hand. It was enough to considerably change the mood in the house. There is something about a month of Sundays that can do that. It also tells me that perhaps this is a reboot that has long been needed. And it is true I am sure that a lot of people are discovering slow and easy things that are near at hand that they forgot the value of. Sabbath… an idea whose time has come.
I am old enough to remember life before the Sabbath laws changed in Ontario. Sundays were a day of rest by default, because everything was closed. Hence families got together in picnic areas, people sat and read, and otherwise recharged. After the laws changed and everything was open it seemed like the merry-go-round just never stopped... ever. I went camping with a friend and he was saddened on a Sunday to visit a nature area that used to be well-used for family time on Sunday afternoons, and now it was sitting empty. Everyone was either out shopping or distracted, playing on their devices it seems.
Well, my planes are next I think. And after that a lot of things that need to be retooled, cleaned, sharpened up, given some love, or otherwise maintained. Truly, it’s food for thought. What would you do with a month of Sundays? We are all finding out and maybe there is a silver lining behind that cloud. There are even things like home cooking and eating meals together, long forgotten it seems in all the bustle of I don’t-even-know-what.
How very odd that such unanticipated and healthy benefits would flow from a worldwide health pandemic. Topsy-turvy truths... they suddenly seem so self-evident.
Finely (and finally) fettled.