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Earlier this week on All Saints Day, 01 November, I had a chance conversation in the cathedral with someone who had just arrived in Wakefield from continental Europe. Their first impressions of Wakefield, generally positive, nevertheless included puzzlement about why shops and businesses were open on 01 November. I explained that the UK is an outlier in Europe in this (as in much else besides). While public holidays in most European countries are closely related to Christian festivals, including All Saints, in the UK that is not so much the case (with the notable exceptions of Easter and Christmas).
Our conversation led me to reflect on the importance of rhythm to our daily lives. Regular time set aside for rest and relaxation if we are working or studying; regular routines of a different sort if we are retired; a regular routine of exercise at whatever stage of life we are. Without such routines, our life lacks a coherent rhythm and soon feels rather shapeless.
The Christian calendar of times and seasons is a helpful source of rhythm and routine. Our calendar has particular periods of preparation: Advent and Lent; we have periods of extended celebration during the seasons of Christmas and Epiphany, and during Eastertide; and throughout the year we celebrate the great saints of the Church who all have their own particular feast day. While it might be a source of some regret that the Christian calendar no longer forms the basis for the rhythm of public holidays in the UK, there is nothing to stop us from using it ourselves as one way of shaping our life of prayer and discipleship – not just on Sundays but throughout the year. Our Diocese of Leeds can also be of help if you are interested in exploring the idea of a rhythm of life further: you can find more details on this page of the diocesan website.
With love and prayers,
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