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Curate's Corner - Holidays

Curate’s Corner – September 2015

Can it really be September already? Why is it that time seems to go so quickly? We know rationally that it doesn’t really go any faster or slower; that one day lasts for the same amount of time as the next. But I’m sure most of us have experienced the feeling that time just seems to slip away from our grasp. We often get to the end of a year and look back wondering where on earth the last 12 months went.

Life is lived at such a fast pace these days. With the advent of email and the internet, we have come to expect everything so much more quickly. If an email fails to send within a few seconds of hitting the button, stress levels increase and frustration ensues. We have become so impatient.

Having just come back from holiday as I write this, I have found myself trying to cling on to something of the slower pace of life that we enjoyed for the two weeks we were away. Holidays offer us that rare opportunity to slow down, to relax, to enjoy life at a slower pace. But all too quickly we find ourselves back into the normal high-speed pace of daily life.

I began reading a book while I was on holiday which I didn’t manage to finish while I was away. I have carried on reading it since getting back home and back to normal parish duties. I was thinking the other evening that it was rather strange, continuing to read something that I had begun to read in very different circumstances; in a different country even. But somehow, the fact that I was still reading the same book connected me in some way to that different place, that slower pace of life. It reminded me that actually it was really important not just to slow down for 2 weeks out of 52, but to find time in our daily routines to slow down, to pause, to reflect.

It is so easy to get sucked into the high-speed pace of life that goes on around us, and to struggle to keep pace. There is so much to do always. But is getting everything done what it’s all about? Are we to be judged on how much we manage to achieve; how quickly we manage to get things done? Do we follow Jesus because of the quantity of his achievements in a relatively short lifetime? Of course, Jesus achieved much in his earthly life, but I don’t think any of us would rate the quantity of his achievements at the top of our list of reasons why we choose to follow him.

God loves us for who we are first, not for how much we do. There is a vast gulf between ‘doing’ and ‘being’, and all too often the former take priority over the latter. But it’s not sustainable. Did, for example, Mother Theresa, achieve all that she did by prioritising her tasks over her spiritual life? It doesn’t stack up. There is an alarming rise in clergy ‘burn-out’ throughout the Church of England – a sure sign that ‘doing’ is getting far more attention than ‘being’.

And as I write this, I feel like I’m writing a letter to myself; words of advice from a concerned alter-ego. The well-known words “Practice what you preach!” are running through my mind! I write this, knowing that it’s almost more for my benefit than for yours, but we all need to hold onto something of the holiday season; we all need to allow ourselves that time and that space to slow down, to pause and to reflect, to pray and to spend time with God.

And so as the schools go back this month, as we return from our holidays and set our faces towards all that needs to be done in the coming weeks and months, let’s try to hold on to something of that relaxed holiday spirit that allows us to slow down a bit and savour life a bit more.

I might not finish reading that book just yet…!