Learn to Rest - A Pastoral Note by Jenny

Dear friends,

“I don’t think he knows what mood he’s in today. It’s been a roller coaster.”

Message from my son about his (3 1/2 year old) dog this week.

I think it sums up what I’m hearing from a lot of people about how they are feeling at the moment. I’m sensing a lot of confusion - in one minute we might be angry that things are so messed up, and the next minute we might celebrate something new that we have had to learn to accomplish. One moment we might be pleased that we can stay at home to work (well, I don’t have to get out of my Ugg boots, and I can hang out the washing between meetings and tasks) and the next moment we are lamenting the lack of socialisation.

There are some days I feel like I’m forcing myself to get up out of bed in the morning. Not because I want more sleep, but because there seems a routineness to each day which ends up feeling something like drudgery. Get up, get ready, turn on the computer, sit at the desk. One Zoom meeting flows into another, and other pieces of work get ‘shoved in the breaks.’ The days can be tedious, even though the ministry itself is exciting and (joyfully) challenging. And tedium, I find, leads to feeling tired and not wanting to get out of bed!

So, I am having to constantly remind myself to look for the joys in life, and to do things throughout each day that both take me away from my desk and give me some (different) purpose and fun. I find great enjoyment in doing something for other people, and I have discovered the pleasure of knitting toys! I’ve knitted little dolls for babies, a “Yoda” toy for a family member, and am working on a dragon for another family member (because, you know, any lockdown needs more dragons!). It is something different to fill my mind, my hands, and my heart in moments I need a “circuit breaker,” and I have found that to be helpful.

Some people have told me how they break up their days by painting little figures, or making bread, or reading a chapter of a novel, or weeding in the garden, or going for a short walk, or learning a musical instrument or a new language, and so on. Even if the ‘break’ is only 5 minutes every few hours, it is helpful to stop screen time and move away from the desk. [I was very inspired to learn that one of our UCA schools a few weeks ago had a dedicated “screen-free Friday,” encouraging students and staff to not look at a screen for the entire day.]

We are all different, and different things (and probably at different times) will prove challenging for us, and what proves helpful for each of us will be different also. I think I simply want to say this week that the rollercoaster ride of emotions is ok. It is very understandable. And it’s ok if you’re not experiencing a rollercoaster ride also. The tiredness we might be feeling is also understandable. I believe this is one reason why God required us to take a Sabbath break each week — to rest, to do something different, to re-connect with joy, purpose, and of course with God. I also believe we need more frequent Sabbath breaks at the moment. And I continue to encourage you to find what gives you that sense of rest and reconnection in-between all the things that are before you in each day.

The street artist known as Banksy is attributed with this quote: “If you get tired, learn to rest and not to quit.” For each of us in this season, and through this lockdown, I would paraphrase it slightly as “When you get tired, learn to rest and not to quit.” In your rest times, as well as in your busy times, in your “up” times and your “down” times — may you find rest and joy in God’s gracious love which is holding you through this whole rollercoaster ride.

Blessings and Peace,