Time to Stop and Stare

From HAVEN NEWS Summer 2017

The great thing about taking a holiday is that you have so much more time. Life at home is so frantic. it is lovely to get away just to have time to spare. This summer we are going back to the beautiful seaside town of Tenby in South Wales. We last stayed around there 25 years ago with two small children. This time we will  have two bouncy dogs instead. But the pace of life will be set by couples with babies and toddlers. Compared to the busyness of Chelmsford everything will be relaxed and  sedate. It won’t  take long before frustration at driving behind the tractors is replaced by an appreciation of the scenery you miss when you are travelling on the motorway. We will stay in a log cabin beside the fence of a zoo so we are told that the only thing that will disturb us will be the sound of monkeys and tigers.

I still remember how the tranquillity of our last holiday there was disturbed one afternoon. We were enjoying a leisurely cream tea when the loud American executive at the next table warned his companions, “It’s almost nineteen minutes past six. We’ve only got thirteen and a half minutes!” For a moment I was almost swept up into his urgency.

I began to ponder that the way in which we talk about time reflects the increasing pace of life. A long, long time ago people only really cared what season it was. Then they began to count the days, and think about whether it was morning or afternoon or evening or night-time. Next, folk began to measure the hours and as life moved more quickly it mattered whether it was a quarter past or half past. Now digital watches and smartphones encourage us to think in minutes and seconds instead of “five-and-twenty to”. Such needless precision only adds to the pressure of time we feel today.

In the school where I taught we had a colleague. When things became frantic with exams to mark and reports to write, she would refuse to be rushed. She would seek to inspire us by quoting the same lines of poetry. “What is this life so full of care?  We have no time to stop and stare.” Surely the poet was right. The world today regards “being busy” as a virtue. We charge around trying to achieve so much. Many folk don’t have the time to enjoy life any more. Family time can get squeezed out. So can God.

The original meaning of “a holiday” was “a holy day”. The whole purpose of taking a break from daily work and the usual routines was to celebrate the great festivals of the church. To make time to spend with God.

We wish everybody  relaxing and happy holidays. May we all take a little time to stop and stare and in those moments of peace may we all meet with God.



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