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Taking time to do less

Published: 4th July 2023

Archdeacon Robert JonesAn article for August editions of parish magazines from the Archdeacon of Worcester, Robert Jones.

On the whole August is the holiday month, and life slows down for many people. It has a particular significance for me as I prepare to retire in the autumn, hoping that slowing down might become something of a more regular feature of my life. People keep telling me that I’ll never know how I found the time to work. Others ask me what I am going to do, and what plans I might have. All of which are good questions and, no doubt, shrewd observations, but also rather alarming for someone like me who was thinking retirement might be about having a rest and a bit of space to do what you like!

There is a time for doing lots of things, and, I believe, there is a time for doing nothing – though clearly not, in the latter case, as a full-time activity or lack of activity. We need the stimulation of people, places and events. However, in a hectic world where we are so often measured by what we do or achieve, by our successes and achievements, it is perhaps good from time to time to learn simply to be.

How often do we ask someone on meeting them for the first time, ‘well, what do you do then?’, as if this is the most important thing about anyone. I know it is harder to ask ‘who are you?’ or ‘what excites you in life?’ Yet the story of who we are is so much bigger than what we do for a living. Perhaps this is something we can learn from those who are retired.

We carry this over into our prayer life as well, which so often can become very busy and wordy. It was Rowan Williams, a former archbishop, who described prayer as akin to sun-bathing. You don’t actually do very much, but wallow in the warm rays of God’s love. By the way, I can’t actually imagine this particular archbishop sun-bathing - and yet, I do like the image of prayer being about us simply soaking up God’s love. Maybe that is something for which I might find more time in retirement.

Archdeacon Robert Jones

Page last updated: Tuesday 4th July 2023 2:32 PM

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