Firstly, a caveat; there is much to be concerned, prayerful and sad about. Please understand that I am not suggesting – for a second – that this is not the case. However, were we not to look for the good, we could easily get disheartened.
I am also aware that parents of young children reading this blog could feel cheesed off – unable to relate. Never mind. I trust that each of you will find something of encouragement here.
Even during the holidays, it seems a battle to find rest sometimes. I have to fight the urge not to feel guilty if we don’t organise at least one or two outings or activities that require getting up early and rushing around preparing ‘stuff’. The pressure leaks in.
Two days ago, Paul told me he was going to set the alarm.
I was quiet for a few moments while I thought carefully about my response. And then I gave it.
I am not usually dictatorial – perhaps a “CF” (control freak) at times… but not dictatorial or particularly direct at home. Carefully, because we had time, I constructed my explanation. It started with a question… “Why?”
There are so many reasons why one might deem it necessary to set an alarm when working from home and I get that. You could argue that it is needful in order to maintain motivation; that it’s good to have a routine and set goals.
Getting enough sleep and waking up naturally is one of the most healthful things that you can do for yourself – did you know that? It takes me so long to settle into rest that I rarely end up getting sufficient amounts of it even over the holidays.
Did you know that in Old Testament times, the land was farmed for six years and then given a year to lay fallow? To rest? The Sabbath year. I can’t stop thinking about this at the moment. Rest is a beautiful biblical principle. Whether you are a person of faith or not, you cannot fail to recognise that Sundays have lost their ‘quiet’ and that we have lost the ability to rest. In a story in the New Testament, the disciples are stressed out in the middle of a storm on the Lake of Galilee – note what happens next, they have to WAKE Jesus up… he is sleeping in the boat, in the midst of the storm. He is resting.
I recently had some minor surgery. This really wound me up. I am not good at taking time off work. I hated it and was itching to get off the sofa as soon as I could possibly stop wincing in pain to return to the grindstone. Imagine my frustration when, two weeks later, I was clearly in the throes of Covid-19 and had to self-isolate.
Now the schools have closed.
However, something magical has been happening. I have slept. I have begun to take enforced rest. Not rest that stops when I am better… or on Monday morning… but rest that surrounds me like a blanket. Rest that is a balm to my tired soul. Rest that whispers through the quiet streets. Rest that cradles the flourishing spring flowers and rest that seems dense in the blue and cloudless skies. Rest that – when it isn’t whispering – sings the songs of reinvigorated songbirds.
I won’t be supporting a bid to set a regular alarm clock in these strange, unfolding times.
May I suggest that you also sink into the new rhythm of life and stop pushing against the tide? Find rest and reacquaint yourself with this friend who only has blessing for you. I have almost felt a very gentle warning for myself – this opportunity may not come around again… take it now. If you can go with it (PLEASE bear in mind my caveat at the start) I have even had a feeling that the positive flipside of the very obvious and difficult negatives is that this is almost a Year of Jubilee – these came around every 50 years – after seven lots of seven… a year when debts were forgiven, amnesties made and rest ruled.
I am a teacher and – you will probably know that – we NEVER stop. I am blessed to have a head who recognises this opportunity and finished her email to us this morning with this:
MOST IMPORTANTLY – take time out.
Thanks, I will.