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Curate's Corner - August 2016

Curate’s Corner – August 2016

I don’t really like going to the gym. I have tried it a few times over the years, but despite initial enthusiasm, I quickly stop going. There’s something about being surrounded by people apparently much fitter and healthier than me that puts me off I think!

But as we all know, it is important to do what we can to get (and to keep) fit. A few months ago I decided that I really needed to do some exercise, so I decided to start running. Initially, I was only able to manage a few repetitions of 60 seconds’ running followed by 60 seconds of walking. Slowly, gradually, I was able to build up to longer distances and longer periods of running.

Now, I don’t want to suggest that I’m going to be running a marathon any time soon, but I’ve actually got to the point now where I’m quite enjoying running, and I find myself looking forward to the next run. I’m at the point where I can run 5k quite comfortably, and want to start progressing to longer runs.

But I seem to have hit a bit of barrier. I just can’t seem to get beyond a certain point before running out of steam and needing to stop. However much I push myself I feel I’ve reached my limit and have to stop. I couldn’t really work out why it was I couldn’t progress to the next ‘stage’ so to speak.

I then came across a training programme designed to help you train towards a 10k run. I looked at where I was roughly on the programme to see what they recommended. Suddenly it clicked. Instead of saying things like “just keep on pushing yourself until you achieve your goal” it recommended breaking up the longer runs with short periods of walking as you build up your stamina. It was so simple and so obvious. By introducing 2 short times of walking, it’s much easier to carry on and to extend the distance you can run bit by bit.

It occurred to me that that is also true of life: that in order to be able to do more, achieve more, be more effective in what we’re doing, we need to intersperse what were doing with appropriate times of rest. We aren’t designed just to keep on going all the time; every day we sleep in preparation for the next. And it was God himself who gave us the pattern for work and rest in the account of creation in Genesis, in which we are clearly told that he rested from all his work on the seventh day, blessing it and making it holy.

We all know the benefits of a relaxing holiday; a time to slow down, relax and enjoy time with family and friends. We all know how much better we feel after a really good night’s sleep. Times of rest are an essential part of a healthy, balanced life. We know the theory, but how good are we at putting it into practice? Just as a few short periods of rest enable us gradually to extend our running distance, so too having the right periods of rest in our lives enables us to lead more effective, healthier lives.

A couple of weeks ago, the set gospel reading was the story of Mary and Martha. Martha, you will recall, busies herself in the kitchen preparing the meal for their special guest Jesus, while her sister Mary decides instead to sit at his feet and listen to his teaching. Martha is incensed, eventually pleading with Jesus to make Mary get up and help her with all the work that needs to be done. Jesus’ reply is a bit challenging for the practically-minded ‘doers’ in the world. He praises Mary for making the right choice, leaving Martha probably feeling even more angry and frustrated!

We all know that nothing would ever get done if we spent all the time resting, or ‘dwelling in the presence of the Lord’, but I think the point Jesus is making is not so much that the chores don’t matter, than that we need to get the balance right between attending to the chores and attending to God.

At this time of year, as our thoughts turn to holidays and the schools have broken up, let’s have think how we might carry over some of that holiday feeling into our everyday lives; how we might benefit from breaking up each day with short times of walking instead of running; of sitting at the feet of Jesus listening to him instead of attending to the chores.

Enjoy the holidays!

Fr Mitch