Enjoying a delightful Sunday at home – the normal of a new norm

A most relaxing Sunday for me today.  The usual of the new norm.  Late Sunday mornings are generally spent attending the livestream worship service followed by a sermon discussion session on zoom. Today’s was special, just like on other Sundays. The whole conglomeration of praise songs, community prayers and teaching inspired by Scripture created a sacred aura almost magical in a high spiritual sense, and soothing to the heart that seeks calm and peace in the midst of worldly clamor.  Pastor Dan’s message, based on verses from First Peter in the Bible, touched on the steadfastness of faith and what church is to the people of God.  

After the service and discussion online was a light lunch for me, slow and totally unhurried, while digesting a bit of weekend news capsules from the TV broadcast,  I then shifted to sit in front of my laptop and pored over Facebook messages and postings.  One particularly caught my attention – a stunning scenic picture shared by my nephew’s daughter. The photo triggered happy memories.

 “Backyard” of the La Union beach home (photo by Kim Pandes)

I remembered my vacation last year at her family beach home in La Union province, Philippines.  For about a week, I stayed in an impressive two-story house  fronted by a garden center pieced by robust but delicate bonsai plants grown sideways instead of upwards.  The rest of the spacious garden is specked with ornamental plants and a few low palm trees.  

Continuing to reminisce while gazing at the picture, I thought about the balcony at the back of the house, a favorite gathering area, because the backyard is the broad ocean that sends shy waves to a narrow shore during the day, and lashing waves against the house’s balcony walls in the evenings.  On moonlit nights, the waters reflect an eerie but magical shimmers of refracted moon beams, accented by flickering lights of a few fishermen’s boats cradled by the waves not far from shore.  Often, lunch and dinner are taken out to the balcony because of the panoramic ocean view and fresh sea breeze. I recall that one night when my nephew told us to wait in the balcony while he met the fishermen that returned to shore.  He brought bags of freshly caught shrimps, and a few minutes later, my sister-in-law carried to the balcony large trays laden with shrimps just lightly warmed on the stove.  That was past ten in the evening, but we ate ravenously like we were hungry and never had dinner that night. I can still imagine that sweet aroma of freshly caught shrimps.  Yum!

Still looking at the picture, I thought of the large gazebo to the side of the balcony, a round structure with thatched roof and with floors, posts and benches of firm bamboo.  That gazebo has been a favorite pick for gatherings or just a place for hanging out.  I can still hear the laughter, boisterous conversations, comical stories, and robust singing prompted by a loud video karaoke stationed outside the gazebo. 

Still a very relaxed afternoon, just enjoying memories of that beautiful place – until nostalgia and a sadness crept in.  My vacation in that place in 2019 was the last time my younger brother and his wife, ever gracious hosts, attended to our group at that beach home in La Union – before they passed in summer of this year.  

Still a relaxing Sunday afternoon.  I moved to sit comfortably in an old bright red velvet colored armchair and watched a musical feature on the PBS TV channel.  The program showed highlights of achievements of Joseph Haydn, the classical Austrian composer.  I thoroughly enjoyed performances of his Opus works by a string quartet.  Haydn is said to be the proponent of the string quartet that lead to the formation of the chamber orchestra used and developed further by succeeding composers.  While I delighted in Haydn’s lively musical arrangements that  carried Croatian and Gypsy influences, I was most amused by the rendition of a humorous piece titled “The Joke”. That piece playfully displays the composer’s humor so wittingly interspersed in a teasing arrangement that makes the listener guess the piece’s true ending.  Repeatedly, the music stops as in a finale, and suddenly resumes to stop again.  This pattern continues, and when you don’t expect it, the piece abruptly ends like an unexpected question mark.  Purely amusing and delightful.

This has been my relaxing Sunday.  How was yours?

Linda P. Jacob