It’s that time again. The queuing at airport check-in time. The stuck-in traffic time. The over-heated kids time. Yes, holidays are coming or, even, looming ahead! Looked forward to and quite possibly dreaded in equal measure. And especially in the light of recent inability to travel and the threat of industrial action of various types, things could be even more fraught!
Now the above description is clearly overdrawn, but there is sufficient truth in it to give us pause for thought. Everyone needs holidays. Their derivation from “holy days” gives some clues about their very serious value.
“Holy” means “set apart”. Different, not the usual place or activity. There’s value in being “elsewhere” and not doing what we usually do. So, ‘phones turned off and emails not looked at seems a good idea.
“Holy” means being in a different place, not necessarily physically but certainly psychologically. The mind and emotions need space for rest, for recuperation and reimagining. They need to be filled with glad things and stimulating things that refresh us mind, body and spirit. Scenery, art, different cultures can all help here.
“Holy” means giving self a rest. Now that seems a problem for holydays since they, of necessity, involve lots of choices about what I want to do. But what I mean is letting go of the often insistent sense that I have to do this, I have to get there, I have to achieve, I have to be noticed, I have to get the contract, I have to be promoted, I have to promote this, I have to arrange that. I really need to stop and that is not easy. One help is simply to concentrate on the “other”. Focus on the needs of others, giving up first place and relaxing into someone else’s agenda. Family can help here!
But perhaps a good way is to go back to “holy” because that is where God comes in. There is huge value in focusing on the One truly, “in charge”, “responsible”, and letting my desires, thoughts, plans and schedules settle back into God’s. This is what prayer is about and there are many resources to help us relax into the reality that it does not all depend on me (lots of apps like “Lectio 365” and “Open Prayer Book” if an actual book isn’t readily to hand!).
And even if God does not seem a very present reality to me, taking time to be still, to relax, to focus on “not having to work everything out for myself” and finding simple space may open up new vistas of wellbeing.
Wishing you some holiday/holy time this summer!