Our culture of busyness does not lend itself well to rest. The drive to do more, be more and get more may have its perks, but when left unchecked, these often hectic demands deplete our emotional, physical and mental reserves.
Many of us are busy with good things: homes, families and meaningful jobs. Despite this we become too tired to think clearly or keep up. Why does the pursuit of becoming better off leave us worse off in so many other ways?
We are not the first generation to face the pressures of busyness. Regular time with family and friends is an important part of our ongoing renewal individually and as a society. This need for rest is what prompted previous generations to value holidays or holy-days, as they were initially called. Thanksgiving weekend is an example of a societal call to stop, give thanks and take a day off – a wise prescription for our frantic, consumer-based society. Remembrance Day is another opportunity to stop and Remember, lest we forget and take for granted the freedoms others gave us. The calendar year is punctuated with such memorials, and we do well to honour them.
But a few days a year is not enough, the rhythms of our lives should breathe with hard work and deliberate rest. Daily, weekly and monthly moments where we tune out, turn off and pause to gather our thoughts and honour our God, our family and friends. Time for rest is one thing, but actually resting is another. When we fill our down time with activity which robs us of true rest, the understanding discovered in chosen stillness continues to elude us.
Since being elected our family has experienced these tensions in fresh ways. To combat this, my wife, children and I have decided to build time together into our weekly routine. We’ve gone for walks, made pizzas at home, played games or enjoyed fires with our wider family. Jigsaw puzzles have re-appeared on our dining room table. Every day I read something good for my soul, not just for information or to check email.
Perhaps the reason the Thanksgiving weekend felt so good is that we are not practised at resting effectively or frequently enough. As a result, we are frantic, frazzled and confused. Perhaps surprisingly, the call to rest better is also a promise to work better, for it is the rested soul that can handle more and the rejuvenated mind that can take on new challenges.