Honolulu – It’s got everything. Sand for the children, sun for the wife, sharks for the wife’s mother.
Ken Dodd, comedian
Firstly, I love my mother in law – unlike, obviously, Ken Dodd.
But secondly, I wonder if you have had – like me – to cancel or to reorganise your holidays.
You may be feeling OK about it, or you may be really annoyed, especially if you just missed the Eurostar or the ferry from France before the quarantine was imposed.
Having had a couple of staycations, I certainly miss the more normal holidays.
But I am left thinking, why on earth do we miss our holidays so much?!
Is it because normal life is unbearable? Hardly! (I think! Feel free to disagree!!)
Is it because we’ve got used to our luxuries? Possibly – but that doesn’t really feel like enough of an explanation.
Then, I remembered – forgive me, this is how this curate’s brain works – that on the story of creation, God – yes, God! – “rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done” (Genesis 2.2)
Please keep reading, even if you’re a bit lukewarm (or positively chilly) about religion!
Isn’t that an extraordinary statement? The all powerful, the almighty, the creator of everything – resting?!
Was he tired? Had it been too long a shift? Or just too long a week?
What is going on?!
Well, even if you’re not very keen on believing in God, this story is clearly saying that rest (and a change) is a very important part of a healthy lifestyle. What stronger way is there to say it (to religious people) than to say that God himself had a rest?
It’s building it into the structure of the universe, into the patterns of life.
We need time to stop our usual routines. We need to pause and reflect on what we have done – sometimes to critique it, yes; but dare I say, we don’t often stop to appreciate what we have done, because we are too worried about the next thing that needs doing.
I find it comforting that God would want to stop, even if he doesn’t need to (unlike me). And that when he does so, he is pleased: it’s all very good! (Genesis 1.31)
So I really hope that you have had – or are soon having – a chance to stop and get a change of scene.
And if you can’t go away – because of health, or work, or family commitments, that you nevertheless get some moments of pause. It may be ‘just’ a couple of hours in a place you love, that you haven’t been to for a while – or even ‘just’ a good long catch up on the phone with someone you love, but haven’t been able to see for a long while.
And when you stop, imagine – just imagine – that there is a God somewhere out there, who cares so much for you, that he cares for your rest?
Isn’t that a radical and amazing idea?!
Rev John Beswick Pallister