by Morongoa Selepe
I recently had a conversation with a friend over a meal about the busyness of our lives. Everything is fast-paced. We do not have enough time to recharge before taking up another challenge or moving on. This friend experienced the loss of her sister unexpectedly. With this loss to her family, she now has guardianship of her sisters’ two children. She says there’s no time even to grieve her sister’s passing. The burial took place on the weekend. Her employer phoned her on Monday and informed her she had to return to work as she had depleted her leave days.
This conversation invited me to reflect on the importance of slowing down versus the reality of life. Taking time out helps the body and mind to rest and refresh itself. When we are relaxed, we are more productive and creative. We can give more when we take frequent breaks. In a society where many people feel they need to keep busy or appear busy, it is essential to create a new culture of slowing down, of being okay with slowing down. There’s so much happening to us and around us. Load shedding continues to disrupt our lives, as does corruption, the burning of buildings, the bombing of streets, lives lost and many of the personal challenges we experience.
Slowing down or taking time out is a luxury not afforded to many. We are living in challenging economic times. The cost of living is high. In our households, we cut down on non-necessities. Time out is easily regarded as unnecessary, along with other luxury items. The funds for a holiday could be put to better use – to cater for more essential things at home, e.g. school fees and uniforms for the children, food. The list is endless. So then, I think it becomes a priority to find ways of slowing down that would not necessarily require one to “break the bank”. Anything that can help us relax, recharge and energise us is essential.
We see in the Gospel how Jesus lived. He sets an example of perfect balance that we can embrace today. Similarly to us, Jesus lived a busy life. He was relational, had friends, including the twelve disciples, went to parties, and broke bread with others. He taught and healed people who came to him for help. Jesus was busy. We also see him in Scripture withdrawing from people to pray and be with his father, especially at critical moments in his life. He also participated in community worship. He displayed the perfect balance to the busyness of life.
I believe imbalance happens when we forget to include practices that sustain us daily. What are the practices or activities in your life that keep you sustained and energised? If you cannot think of any, it may be time to begin to include some in your life. Considering the reality of our lives, with our time and financial constraints, work and family responsibilities, we can find ways to slow down. This will enable us to give more and develop a healthier, significant manner of living where slowing down becomes the rhythm of our lives.