Last week as I started to draft out this blog, I was sitting in a small cafe in the middle of the busy market town of Bradford on Avon. Its patrons were a mixture of tourists and locals, all taking the opportunity to grab a bite to eat; a quick coffee. Outside the roads hummed with cars and lorries performing an intricate and continuous dance punctuated by roundabouts and traffic lights. Tucked away in a window bay, it gave me the chance to spend precious moments just ‘musing’ amidst all the hustle and bustle
Nowadays, in this all too brief earthly world, it can often appear that everything needs to be planned to the nth degree. People rush headlong into the next thing they think needed doing yesterday, so that the present moment is never savoured and burnout is experienced not only in the gym but equally in everyday living.
So often we take on too much, trying to knit together all our tasks into a beautiful complex pattern only to despair when it all starts to unravel. We long for a breathing space – sometimes we just simply want a chance to breathe. When was it that it became necessary to live life at such a breakneck speed that each day blurs into the next?
No doubt we would all end up in chaos if we all decided tomorrow to lay aside our ‘work’ and rush to the nearest beach/mountaintop/woodland to escape it all…. rules and regulations both written and unspoken keep us on track most of the time; still it makes sense that creating regular moments aside is not only sensible and healthy, but essential for our spiritual well-being – so why not make a rule to create a recreation space for ourselves
St Benedict in the sixth century introduced his rules for the monks in his community. Not only were there set times for prayer, work and private study but time was set aside each day for recreation and fellowship. However, if you’re still thinking you’d find it difficult to do something like this daily even taking a few minutes each day to re-centre yourself can be helpful – for me the time spent in morning prayer seems to set me up each day. Take five minutes to start with a moment of quietness and then gradually extend that time a little bit each day. I was also recently reminded that the Jewish faith uses the evening before their Sabbath (Shabbat) to say their prayers so that their minds and bodies can be prepared whilst resting overnight – why not take those five minutes then, to quietly review the the day, giving thanks for all the good things and gaining strength for the day ahead.
Jesus himself knew the benefits of taking time away from his work in prayer and solitude. Whether he ever fully achieved this is uncertain during his ministry years, but at least he attempted to and undoubtedly did cherish that time. Ultimately though his concern was for others ….
‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’ Matthew 11:28-30
…… A welcome invitation. Nevertheless, for the majority of people the closest thing we get to finding a real space for rest is during an annual holiday – which is exactly what I’ll be doing over the next couple of weeks. This is when we can and should allow ourselves to relax and rediscover our inner self – the self that as children just woke up and made of the day whatever adventure presented itself to us.
Now where did I put that bucket and spade?