In my February comment, I asked the question ‘how are you running through life? I suggested that whilst there is time to sprint or maybe run faster for a while, life is in practice much more like a marathon where we need to go at a steady pace most of the time for life to be sustainable and, so we can cover as much distance as possible. This month I would like to reflect a bit further on this theme to help us in this Covid time, and in our journey through Lent….40 days to take a bit more time to reflect about life, God and our personal faith. The question I am going to ask myself to reflect, and you might like to as well, is this: Are you ruthlessly eliminating hurry from your life?
A book that I have read*, but am trying to not just read but to put in practice, suggests that one of our greatest problems is that we have a hurry problem, or one could say a hurry epidemic. To hurry all the time in all we are doing (work, rest and play) is our greatest enemy to experience life and these are the symptoms: irritability; hyper-sensitivity; restlessness; workaholism (or non-stop activity); emotional numbness; out or order priorities; lack of care for your body; escapist behaviours; slippage of disciplines; and isolation. As human being as well as a clergyman who is always busy (and I have been the busiest I ever have been during Covid) I can see all of these things in myself!
To explore all of this more is going to take me all the 40 days of Lent, and I am sure beyond, but if you would like to know something of the antidote to being hurried all the time, below are the headlines from the book that I am going to be exploring. The answer? It isn’t trying to find more time, but rather using the time we have better…to have a ‘rule of life’ that we live by to really experience life as we go along. So, here are the things I am going to be exploring in each week of Lent with a thought about each:
SILENCE AND SOLITUDE – the word the world is using for this at the moment is ‘mindfulness’, but we call it silence/solitude/prayer and it is of course something that, as best we can, we have always sought to keep at the heart of life without which we cannot give attention to what is going on in our life, with others and with God.
SABBATH – we so easily spend so much of our time not living each day for what it has to offer, but always looking forward to a future time when we think we can really enjoy life such as the weekend, a holiday or retirement. But the Christian idea is that we can find rest and be restful all the time, as well as in special and regular times of rest.
SIMPLICITY – in our western culture we have for so long sought satisfaction in the quantity of material things that we can possess and use, but of course the more we have the more we can so easily worry about losing them rather than enjoying a few things simply.
SLOWING – the opposite word to hurry (and it works beginning with S!), is how we do need to approach all we do at a slower speed, to take more time to savour what and who we are connecting with: our family over a meal, our wife or husband as we just talk, our children as we play a game, our neighbours as we help them with a job, our friend as we catch up on a phone call, our God as we enjoy his company perhaps talking (praying) with him on a walk.
I don’t always look forward to Lent with all the things I’m meant to be giving up, or that I must do, but this year I am looking forward to it, as I explore how I can live the life that I have better. I’ll finish with something Jesus said to his friends: “The Sabbath was made for man not man for the Sabbath.” and “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
With my prayers for March and Lent
Revd James – Rector St Peter’s and Blessed Mary
*“The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry”…….How to stay emotionally healthy and spiritually alive in the chaos of the modern world…by John Mark Comer
14th February 2021