Happy New Year to you.
As we step into 2016, it’s worth taking time to reflect, to be present in this moment at the turn of a page into a new year, to be conscious of what’s gone before and what you hope for to come.
I’m doing that today, in front of an open fire in a wet and windy Cornwall. Wherever you are, could you make a decision to carve out a little time alone in the next few days or weeks to reflect? If you want some questions to help you, my post ‘Looking Back, Looking Forward‘ may help.
Also, I’d love to share with you a beautiful New Year Blessing I found, which you can read here.
May this coming year be one in which you grow in depth of love for yourself, God and others; may you overflow with hope and be a hope bringer to others and may a joy and peace increase deep in your spirit that is not dependent on circumstances or emotions.
I don’t know about you but I think in the western work ethic culture, rest has become a bit of a dirty word, connected with laziness and even worthlessness. People value each other by what they do and achieve. The most common response to the compulsory question ‘how are you?’ is now ‘busy’ more often than the innocuous and often dishonest ‘fine’. It’s as if busyness is a badge of honour and worth.
But what if we can only be sustainable in what we do, who we are and how much we can love others if we take time to rest? What if the creator of the universe knew how he’s made us well enough to know that the principle of Sabbath rest he introduced is not only beneficial but is in fact essential to us functioning well and being the best we can be? What if the principle of sabbath is not about what we do or don’t do on a Sunday but about rhythms of rest that nurture who we are?
Sometimes we feel we need permission to rest. But what if the person with the authority to give that permission is only ourselves and waiting for permission basically equates to withholding it?
Maybe in this coming year we need to be intentional about setting up healthy rhythms of rest in advance, giving ourselves permission not to fix, solve and keep everyone happy? Not to meet everyone’s expectations or even our own?
What might rhythms of rest look like? Maybe a night in a week to catch up with yourself. Maybe half a day on a weekend that has no engagements or other people. Maybe putting a few days in the diary for a personal retreat, once or twice a year.* Maybe finding out what makes you joyful and peaceful (going for walks, painting, knitting, journaling in a coffee shop, photography, reading… what is it for you?) and making time for those things without apology.
Maybe if we put those rhythms of rest in place in advance we can live a more sustainable life and have more to give others within our work, family and social contexts. Maybe now is the best time to make those advance decisions.
What do you want rest to look like in this coming year? What do you need to do (or say no to) in order to make that happen?
* You can find a few ideas of places to go to on retreat in the UK here, or in the US here or in South Africa here.