Pastoral Letter

Dear Friends

Everybody’s experience since the beginning of lockdown has been different. For some it has been extremely restful and a time for reflection and for others it has been extremely busy and stressful. I have been one of the busy ones, slightly envious of those who have found it so relaxing. I am surprised by what I have managed to fit into a day but I have also noticed in recent days what is missing. I can sit at my desk from 9 o’clock in the morning until 6 or 7 in the evening with only a short break for lunch and hardly notice the time going by. Of course that is extremely bad for me. We all know the health benefits, both physical and mental, of taking time out during the day. We kid ourselves that we are being productive but the reality is the number of hours of quality productivity is fewer than we imagine.

So, in the last week or two I took stock and reintroduced three important elements. First, I went back to making more time for more prolonged prayer and meditation. As a result my day changed in terms of stress level and I achieved more in less time. Second, I took two or three short 5 minute holidays in the garden to sit in the sun with a cup of coffee, smell the flowers and listen to the birds. Each time I came back to the desk refreshed and renewed. Third, I resolved to return to my watercolour painting. I can still only manage 20 minutes of this a day but the effect has been significant. Since I enjoy botanical painting, the focus on minute detail is crucial for accuracy. Taking time to look at the detail within a flower, the different shapes, textures, colours and shadows opened my eyes again to the beauty and wonder of nature. Total time taken to change my day, about one hour. Result, an improved sense of well-being and an increased sense of internal rest.

OK, I don’t do it perfectly every day but I manage it enough to make a big difference. I am reminded of Jesus’ words in one of the most famous Bible verses in Matthew’s Gospel chapter 11 28-30.

‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’

The word “rest” in this context is not the same as putting your feet up with your slippers on. It is being at rest in your spirit. Rest is not the absence of work, nor is it the opposite of work. It is the state of being at peace even in the midst of busyness or uproar. Is it easy to achieve? No. Is it possible? Yes, but ironically it takes work to achieve it. Personally I find that rest and sense of purpose, as a follower of Jesus, in God. He is my source, my strength and my inspiration but I need to make time for the reality of that to have a real effect on the way I live, act and serve.

My hope and prayer is that those who have found the last weeks restful, will continue to weave internal rest into their schedule and those whose lives are incredibly busy will make space to notice the things around them, find short periods of quiet and instead of using those times to catch up, just be still (ideally in the presence of God who is with us at all times if we search for him). May God bless your next weeks and still your fears as we progress with emerging from lockdown.

07943 014277

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