Today’s #AdventWord comes on a Sabbath – a time of rest. Although as I opened up for Meeting for Worship, set up the chairs, took in the coffee and milk for the refreshments, did the washing up and am writing this post now… I’ve not managed to keep the day as purely for rest and contemplation. Yet, they were jobs that I felt needed doing – I decided they are ‘worth’ trading some of my free time. Deciding what is and isn’t worthy can be tricky.
There is, it sometimes seems, an excess of religious and social busyness these days, a round of committees and conferences and journeyings, of which the cost in ‘peaceable wisdom’ is not sufficiently counted. Sometimes we appear overmuch to count as merit our participation in these things… At least we ought to make sure that we sacrifice our leisure for something worthy. True leisureliness is a beautiful thing and may not lightly be given away. Indeed, it is one of the outstanding and most wonderful features of the life of Christ that, with all his work in preaching and healing and planning for the Kingdom, he leaves behind this sense of leisure, of time in which to pray and meditate, to stand and stare at the cornfields and fishing boats, and to listen to the confidences of neighbours and passers-by…Qf&P 21.22
Most of us need from time to time the experience of something spacious or space-making, when Time ceases to be the enemy, goad-in-hand, and becomes our friend. To read good literature, gaze on natural beauty, to follow cultivated pursuits until our spirits are refreshed and expanded, will not unfit us for the up and doing of life, whether of personal or church affairs. Rather will it help us to separate the essential from the unessential, to know where we are really needed and get a sense of proportion. We shall find ourselves giving the effect of leisure even in the midst of a full and busy life. People do not pour their joys or sorrows into the ears of those with an eye on the clock.
Caroline C Graveson, 1937
Along with this passage, the last sentence of Advice & Queries 18 reminds us, ‘Attend to what love requires of you, which may not be great busyness.’ That if we’re not careful we will be too busy doing the urgent, and miss out on doing the essential.
Especially if we are doing a job we love, we need to ensure that we are ensuring there are margins in our schedule and that we don’t burn out. Being able to do that, without feeling guilty that we’re not doing something more ‘worthy’ is essential. It is another part of ensuring our meetings, charities and any other organisation is sustainable.
- How do you make that judgement about what is worth sacrificing your leisure for?