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Last week saw the final choral services of the choir year, as we waved the choristers and lay clerks off on their well-deserved summer break.
Many of us, I’m sure, will be similarly disappearing over the coming weeks as we jet off on holiday or journey to our favourite UK destination (as long as the airports, trains, buses and motorways are still functioning). Taking time away from the busyness and stresses of our everyday lives is not merely a luxury but a necessity. We need to rest in order to recuperate and recharge our batteries, otherwise we become exhausted and burnt out and no use to anyone. But when there are competing demands on our time the need for rest gets put on the backburner as we concentrate on other seemingly more important things. It’s not healthy, but it all too easily happens. I was speaking to a senior cleric the other day who said he’d not had a proper day off for almost five months: he looked at me with weary resignation. But even God rested on the seventh day after he created the world!
I’m reminded of a passage from St Mark’s Gospel where Jesus, aware that his disciples were running themselves ragged with all the missional work they were doing so that they didn’t have time even to eat, told them to go to a place all by themselves and rest awhile. It’s a passage that offers comfort to those of us tempted to plough on through lunchbreaks and days off, and I think there are two things we can take away from it. Firstly, like those exhausted disciples we often need permission to down tools and take ‘time out’. And secondly, we need to retreat from the world around us, at least for a little while. Jesus knew that without either of those things his disciples would not be able to continue in their various duties and it’s no different for us today.
So this summer, whether you are travelling to sunny climes or your moments of R&R are limited to walking the dog, be kind to yourself and cherish those precious moments of peace and stillness. And take a leaf out of Jesus’ book, take yourself off (mentally or physically) to a distant place and rest awhile.
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