After the round of activity from Easter through Annual Meetings to Christian Aid week, June seems a month which shows every possibility of quietening down a little. How many times have we said that, and actually when we come to it the workload is as burdensome as ever?
Of course, we are in a culture where productivity is everything and everyone is expected to justify their existence by being busy, or in some cases pretending to be busy. The economic downturn we experienced a few years ago has encouraged that sort of feeling. For a number of years jobs have been uncertain and we have all done our best to demonstrate that we are indispensable. And this approach pervades not only the world of work but other parts of our life, including people’s approach to retirement, and the life of the church as well. But I think we need to ask ourselves the question whether we are using our time to the best advantage both for ourselves and for those for whom we are working. Do we always need to be busy? If we are always busy what happens to our inspiration and the judgement that this particular course of action is right whilst that course of action is not? If we are constantly rushing around where do, we find time to reflect on what we are doing?
Jesus, in his life spent time away from the crowds whenever he could, and there are stories in the New Testament of Jesus going off by himself to recharge his spiritual batteries, so that he could face the next set of challenges. I believe that Jesus’ model of work, which included time for spiritual renewal, is a good model for us too.
I know that some of you go to church to gain some spiritual uplift for the week ahead, and whilst that is enough most of the time, sometimes you are looking for more. Sometimes you need a little more space, a little more time to focus on what you are doing and where you are going in your life. It is to meet such needs that people go on retreat, and there are many places where you can go for a few days to find refreshment.
Taking retreats and having some time with God are important aspects of being a member of the clergy too. During my training those of us in my cohort of curates were sent off on retreat at pivotal moments – for example before we were made deacon and before we were priested.
Time to think about the future and all that might entail is important and necessary. Concentrating on listening to God’s plan for things is essential if we are to join in with His mission.
Whether you choose to have a few days on retreat or only manage a few hours of prayer and reflection I hope that you can find some time out of the busyness of everyday that is physically and spiritually uplifting.
With every blessing