A View From The Park

Dare to have a break?

We currently hold a service on the 3rd Sunday of the month at St Oswald’s called ‘Refresh’ which provides space to explore faith. The June service looked at the theme ‘Relax’ and we explored how people use their time to recharge their batteries.
Tables set around the hall highlighted the different ways in which people relax: reading, enjoying creation, gardening, physical exercise, music, poetry, reading and silence.

The variety of aids on display helped to focus on the different ways in which people can set time aside and draw near to God.

We started our service by hearing the first creation story (Genesis Chapter 1) and how after six days of work God declared it was all ‘very good’ and then had the seventh day off (not that He needed it). He made it a day of rest and declared ‘holy’, that is set apart. Christians believe that humanity is made in the image of God. Therefore should we be surprised that this creative need for rest is written into our DNA?
We need to recognise and guard this God-given holy space that we all need for our individual and corporate well-being.

The title I have given to this letter, ‘Dare to have a break’ is an attempt to capture the pressure we may put ourselves under not to have time off because we could all too easily get a particular job finished. You could respond to that email or make a visit you have been putting off and the list goes on!
If we don’t put ourselves under pressure then the looks we attract and the questions raised by some about our use of time can cause us to carry on working.

I shared two stories at the end of the Refresh evening. The first was concerning Abba Anthony one of a group known as the Desert Fathers.
A huntsman saw Abba Anthony spending time with the brothers and he thought that wasn’t right so he made his feelings known to Abba Anthony who responded by asking him to draw his bow and shoot an arrow. Having fired off an arrow Abba Anthony told him to do it again and then again and again...
The huntsman protested that if he continued he would break his bow. Abba Anthony replied, “It is the same with the brothers. If they do not have a break they will be broken.” The huntsman got the point and the brothers were encouraged.

The second story was about a counsellor who was fixing the time of the next appointment with a client. When the client requested that their next meeting be on a particular day and time the counsellor looked at the diary and apologised that that time wasn’t available. Reluctantly, the client accepted the time offered by the counsellor. At the time of the preferred appointment the client was walking in a local park and to their surprise saw the counsellor sitting on the edge of the lake with his feet in the cool water!

A week later during the session the client angrily confronted the counsellor. “You said you couldn’t make last week’s session because you had an appointment in the diary yet I saw you sitting in the park!” Without any hesitation the counsellor calmly replied, “Yes, I was there, that was my time.”

We read in Mark’s Gospel ‘Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.’ (Mark 1: 35)
And in Luke’s Gospel we see this was not a one-off, ‘But Jesus often withdrew to a lonely place and prayed.’ (Luke 5: 16).

Dare to have a break? I could ask, Dare you not make time to have a break? 

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