Faith Matters – Time to relax

Brendan Nicholl 26 June 2019

The mid-year school holidays is a time for students and teachers to rest and relax.

As we finish the semester we enter into a fortnight of rest and relaxation.

It amazes me how quickly two weeks passes during the holidays. Before you know it well-meaning people will be noting that ‘you have less than a week left!’. With this in mind it’s worth spending some time considering what holidays offer us and how we might best use the time offered.

School holidays vary throughout the year and from year to year. Some holidays are pre-planned with ‘holidays’ to overseas destinations or to locations in Australia so distance from home. The mid-year semester break is the period where we generally have not much is planned. These holidays are an excellent vehicle to explore the idea relaxation and contentment.

Freedom from commitments

The beauty of the holidays is that they offer us freedom. We have no commitments. We can choose what we do and when we do it. With this freedom we can use the time in a manner that brings contentment and wholeness or we can ‘waste’ the time doing things that leave us unfulfilled. We individually judge what is time well spent and what is time wasted. What we do with our time is unique and personal. The key to enjoying our holidays is to be in control of our choices and in being able to evaluate what was done in that time as being of value.

With this in mind I would like to take this opportunity to suggest that one thing that should be included in each day of the holidays is time spent in contemplation; preferably outside and alone. William Wordsworth wrote a poem in 1807 that I believe offers a profound insight as to how we might draw great profit from the holiday break.

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed – and gazed – but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Gift of Creation
The poem offers a beautiful vision of nature that leads us to a sense of gratitude to God for his gift of Creation. The images Wordsworth paints with his words are alone enough to draw us beyond our normal thoughts. They direct us to Ignatius’ vision of ‘finding God in all things’. Nature is remarkable in the way in which it can move us from the ordinary to the profound or transcendent. So much occurs perfectly without the need for our actions. Nature is truly breath-taking.

As we move towards the school holidays we have the chance to use these thoughts well by spending some time in contemplation. Going out and observing the world that is so often concealed from our gaze nourishes us spiritually. Nature can never lead us to a feeling of boredom. There is so much happening if we simply ‘be’ we will be awestruck with the complexity of the interactions occurring all around. The secret to experience these things is to begin.

Go out and observe

Over the holidays I encourage you to make time each day to go out and observe. Do nothing. Do not go for a jog or walk the dog. These activities offer rewards we often experience. Spend the time doing something different. When you are comfortable with this practice go a step further. As Ignatius suggests intentionally seek to ‘find God’ in the moment. This experience may offer a profound insight to the absolute presence of God that can be camouflaged in our normal interactions. We find God easily in friendships or things such as music. Purposefully seeking God in the ordinary without doing enables us to see with great clarity how present God is in every way; endlessly.

However you may choose to spend your time over these holidays I hope that when we return as a community you can look back upon the two weeks and say that it was time well spent. I wish you well as you enter this break and that you might be able to take up the suggestion; get out, observe, seek God and relax.

Brendan Nicholls is Liturgy coordinator of St Ignatius College, Geelong.



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