Have you chosen a good book or two to read over the summer? I haven’t found what I am going to read yet, but here are some that I have seen recommended online: Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart; All In It Together: England in the Early 21st Century by Alwyn Turner; Luster by Raven Leilani and The Lock In by Phoebe Luckhurst; Will This House Last Forever? by Xanthi Barker; Stronger by Poorna Bell; Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason; Wild Pets by Amber Medland; Empireland by Santham Sanghera; The Comfort Book by Matt Haig; The Women of Troy by Pat Barker. Do have a look at these and others where I am sure there will be something just right for you!
But what is a Holiday when we might for example read a book, visit somewhere or do some different activities? The root of our word Holiday is from the practice of keeping a ‘Holy’ Day….that given the way God has created us, we all need to set aside time from our normal activities to rest. We need to have rest every day, to rest for a day every week and to rest for some extended times over the year. Does keeping a Holiday and resting mean ‘doing nothing’? No, it means resting from what we normally do so we can be re-energised through what we find enjoyable in God’s creation and God himself. For me that means having an active holiday e.g., walking and exploring (the beach is not for me!) but also to slow down with something like reading a book, playing games or taking longer over a lovely meal with my family.
What else is a Holiday good for? Well, just as a Holy Day (e.g., Sundays) is good for taking stock of the week gone and looking to the week ahead, so having a Holiday is a good time to reflect back over the past year and look forwards to the next year. Time away from what we normally do (whether physically away or away from normal activities) helps us see what has been good and perhaps could be different when we go back.
And what might be good to reflect of over the summer as we come out of Covid restrictions, begin to experience more freedom and look to come back into a more normal way of life? Well, here are a few words and questions you might like to ponder to help you return well and be ready for whatever the Autumn and next year might hold. They are all words beginning with R, which I hope will be memorable:
REFLECT – What do I need to reflect on about the past year?
REMEMBER – What have I been remembering that is really most important about life?
RESPOND – How can I keep responding to the needs of those around me even once life is back to normal?
RECOVER – How has the last year been difficult for me and how do I need to recover….and if we are being honest, we have all suffered hardship and for some even trauma?
RESTART – If this last year has given us the opportunity to restart life in a new and better way, what should a new start look like?
REIMAGINE – If we want to restart better, how could I imagine a better picture in say 5 years time?
RETURN – How can I begin to return to life well in my work and in my activities and most importantly, with the people I have not seem for a long time?
REBUILD – How can I rebuild life step by step that keeps the best of my life before, but also bring in what is best for the future?
So, in summary, I do hope you will be able to have some kind of Holiday with time to both rest (and read a book) and to reflect…..with my prayers for August and September.
Revd James – Rector St Peter’s Bishop’s Waltham and Blessed Mary, Upham
28th July 2021