Hallo again to all.
There are times when we'd like a euro for every article in blogs and websites and magazines and newspapers for ways to find balance in a life crowded with blogs and websites and magazines, with tweets and texts, work and worship, PCC duties and children's parties. We lose time by reading articles about how to gain more time.
Better management of time. Better sleep. Better food. Less telly. Less stress. Less ... everything. Well-meaning advice rains down upon us all.
We'd not have expected one of the most cogent suggestions to have come from a bishop some 180 years ago. 'For every hour of study, ensure an hour of riding'. What? The proportions seem impossible. If one works, reads, whatever for an hour, that should be matched by sixty minutes of exercise? What world was that bishop living in? Well, probably a healthier one than ours, all things considered.
Yes, life expectancy was shorter in the nineteenth century. There were no antibiotics and none of what we associate with 'modern medicine'. But presuming one survived childhood (and childbirth), there was a reasonable expectation of a long-ish life. All in all, people were probably in better physical condition. There was far more walking and far less diabetes. Food was organic by nature, if more limited in scope. Chemicals in food, water, and air were fewer. But still . . . an hour's mental work equalled by an hour's exertion? Who can achieve that sort of metabolic equinox?
It's hard to imagine an employer assenting to such a judicious equation. It's the rare workplace that provides a gym. Most of us grab a hurried lunch hour when and as we can, and it surely doesn't equal the time at our desks. But the more we ponder the balance the bishop suggested, the more we like it. It's immensely adaptable. Try this: For every ten minutes of commenting on a blog, spend ten minutes of intercessory prayer. For every twenty minutes griping with friends about the state of one's diocese, take twenty minutes and stack tins in your parish food cupboard. We can work out our own equations of balancing one sort of activity with another sort.
Another bit of advice that floats round these days: 'Does it tire or does it inspire?' That simple interrogative filter can be useful, but alas it's the rare soul who can jettison persons, places, or things that don't inspire. We all of us have obligations, responsibilities, and commitments that may not relentlessly inspire, but we've taken them on, and so we do them. But when assessing how we spend our time, consider whether a person or an activity gives you energy or depletes it. We may be pledged to some energy-depleting activities in our lives — and surely one hopes it's not one's job or one's parish! — but these can be counterbalanced by people or activities that fill us with energy (call it joy or hope or pleasure or contentment).
The cranky Anglican Communion, it seems to us, could use a little balance these days. For every position paper or statement on the covenant or every powerpoint or presentation on structure or streamlining, there should be a hymn sing or a contest to write a collect in rhyming hexameters for the XXVII Sunday after Trinity. Or perhaps weeding the churchyard or raising funds for an orphanage in one of our poorer provinces.
Having given over Sunday afternoons and evenings to Anglicans Online for 14 years, our personal work-play equation seems a little unbalanced. So in a few moments we'll be doing something quite rare for us: meeting some friends at the cinema. It seems slightly wrong and we feel somewhat ever so guilty. But we suspect you won't notice our absence and that Anglicans Online will seem remarkably the same.
And we also promise that, as ever and always, we'll
See you next week.
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