Shaya slippered his way into our bedroom while the entire house was still sleeping. Wordless, I pulled back the blanket and he sidled in beside me.
Eyes open, I was instantly awake. The tenderness of his still-little warm body beside me was a reminder of how fleeting these years are. He nestled in, seeming to fit perfectly.
Eventually, I suggested we go for a run together. That’s our latest thing, my 8-year-old and I running and walking in intervals, encouraging one another to go longer, stay the distance. He was concerned that his soccer knee-scrape would be aggravated by a run, so I deposited him on the couch in front of cartoons and went out by myself.
There is something about a gray misty morning in early spring when there is nothing to see but perfection. That was today. No bright sun, but plenty of birds singing from the trees.
I passed runner after runner, some with dogs on leashes, some in pairs, some alone like me. I didn’t need the music on my iPhone; the fresh air and silence of the dawn were enough background support to keep going.
When I returned home, my husband was waiting for coffee and checking his iPhone. Shaya reclined on the couch, snuggled in blankets. Bright colors flickered from the TV.
It would be hours before the other three kids rose from teenage slumber, longer still before they were dressed and ready for the day that had half disappeared.
A friend came over to talk about details for the spring bar mitzvah. The girls cleaned up their rooms and the basement where they’d slept the night before. The oldest boy took a very long time to get ready.
Everywhere around the house, there were people going about their business, but none of us were connected.
It used to be, when I lived a religious life, that Saturday became a day of rest. It was a day to stop and gather together, see each other’s faces, know that the technology would be kept at bay for at least 24 hours. We would look into each other’s eyes, play games, talk, read books, take naps.
We would breathe in deeply the air outside, whether it was cold or warm, damp or dry. We invited friends to sit at our table and talk all the afternoon long, until the first fingers of dusk. The hot water was already hot; the food already cooked. The silence was different.
Many Saturdays, we still have a modicum of this. Not today.
Today has been a flurry of emotions and time passing way too fast. It has been a long hamster-on-a-wheel morning that seems simultaneously short.
And so I am drifting off to memories of strolling Saturdays in New York City’s Soho neighborhood, discovering street vendors and foodie hotspots. I am reminded of simple Saturdays, in the north of Israel, in the Himalayan foothills, in places and times when there were no obligations or to-dos, no rushing, no accounting of time.
Why is it that it takes a vacation to truly calm the mind and restore the heart?
Why does it take physically leaving the routine of our lives to get back to the Self?
Is it only in the pre-dawn hours that we can reconnect with the true purpose that lingers below the surface of our skin, the clarity and calm of realization, that only comes out when everything else is at bay?
The daughter yells, “Mommy, why are you so uptight?” The son, who lingered for an hour without stepping into the shower, balks at the now-urgency of having to leave the house. “Should I still shower?” he screams from upstairs.
The little one refuses to shower, citing his knee injury, and sighs heavily when asked to put on socks. The step-daughter has hidden in the basement, in an effort to avoid the melee.
Whatever happened to the peace of a Saturday? And whatever happened to my ability to find it, even amid the muck?