A View From The Vicarage - August
All Work And No Play.
As you read this during the long, long days of summer, many of us turn our attentions away from the mundane and every day to the excitement and expectation of a summer holiday. Quite unusually for me, Jean and I are taking a summer break this year during the month of August: something that I haven’t done in all of the years since I was ordained. Having spent over half of my life tied to school and college holidays it’s been a huge treat to go away on holiday once the main summer season has ended. This year, however, we’re combining our summer holiday with my nephew’s wedding in August.
For many of us that week or fortnight, or however long it is, away from the pressures, demands and responsibilities of everyday life is, quite naturally, one of the highlights of the year, as indeed it should be.
I’m confident that all of us are familiar with the old proverb: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. I was, however, slightly surprised to discover that it’s been recorded as early as 1659. However old the words may be the wisdom behind them is timeless and it seems to me, never more and essential in the seemingly non-stop world of today’s society and culture.
I don’t know about you but I heartily dislike the phrase “24/7” to describe the frantic pace of life at which people, it seems are expected or required to live in our contemporary atomised utilitarian culture. Business and, therefore, people are it seems supposed to operate at all hours of the day and the night and, of course, modern communication means that it is possible to do so.
One of the greatest gifts that the Judaeo Christian tradition has given to humanity is the idea of Sabbath a day of complete rest. I’m sure that some of you can remember the prohibitions that used to be enforced on Sundays. Nonetheless it seems to me that our society desperately needs to recapture the idea and the reality of a regular time of rest and relaxation. We need the opportunity to pause, to draw breath to depart from our normal every day activities. Let’s, at the very least, change from 27/7 to 24/6. It’s surely essential for our own individual health and wellbeing to ensure that we regain not simply a yearly holiday but equally essentially a weekly day of rest. The Bible, of course, is full of references to opportunities for rest and relaxation. Whatever he did Christ certainly did not work 24/7 and if he didn’t work “every hour that God sent” and if Jesus didn’t then we shouldn’t either.
I’ve often observed that too many in our society are too busy earning a living to actually remember that the greatest gift and treasure of all is not financial security or the acquisition of material possessions it is life itself. With that I’d like to wish you all a happy, blessed and refreshing summer with plenty of opportunities for rest, relaxation and refreshment.
I can do no better than close with the words of W H Davies:
“What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare”
With my love and prayers as always