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03 Rhythm of Rest and Recreation - Fr Anthony Charanghat

posted May 9, 2019, 11:29 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated ]
Like the unchanging rise and ebb of night and day in time, the periodical rhythm of rest and recreation to the routine of work and study is integral to holistic human development. Come summer and it is no surprise that fun-filled holidays and vacations are on the minds of children and adults. But alas with not much thought about the significance and intrinsic value to the individual, society and its adverse impact on ecology. Many, because of a flawed approach to the mad rush for exorbitant stereotyped packaged travel and tourism deals, are left more jaded and with burn out.

For others, such a break from work happens rarely. Many do not have the opportunity to rest because of penury or the patterns of their lives. Some find all their time consumed by the need to earn a pay check, care for children or aging parents, and fulfil others’ needs and expectations of them. With the dizzying advance of technology, people can work anywhere and anytime. The use of smartphones today connect them to the office round the clock. Over-worked, they find it increasingly difficult to experience the kind of life-restoring, humanising rest that they need.

The cascading consequences of a rest deficiency are borne out by research. First, lack of rest can compromise health and the quality of work. Heavy workloads and long hours are a significant source of stress in the work place. According to a Psychological Association survey, more than a third of workers experience chronic work stress, which can lead to anxiety, insomnia, muscle pain, increased blood pressure, as well as a weakened immune system. This kind of stress can also increase chances of heart disease, diabetes, and depression.

When people lack rest they suffer physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Physical and mental exhaustion can often lead to emotional volatility, as a poorly rested individual becomes easily irritated and/or anxious. This lack of rest can escalate into larger issues. Relationships become strained. Over time a person’s spiritual life—a connection to God and the deepest meaning and joy in life—becomes diminished too.

Both those who are over-worked and those who are under-worked may find it hard to connect with God in a rhythm of work and rest. Yet by God’s grace it is still possible to integrate rest and work into the pattern of life that God intends. We do not have to indulge in destructive splurge and reckless time-consuming travel and five-star ecologically damaging luxury tourism to find fulfilment, we could find it anywhere at any time in the leisure of God’s wonderful creation and in His gift of human relationships.

Human beings need a rhythm of work and rest in order to live up to their God-given potential. Just as God gives people important work to do, God also asks people to rest periodically from their labour. Work gives each individual the opportunity to partner with God in his goals for creation, while rest lets that person enter into communion with God in enjoyment of creation. Ideally, all people would work and rest in comfortable alternation, leaving humanity physically healthy, mentally stimulated, socially bonded and spiritually fulfilled.

Many people have ceased to attempt to balance work with rest which is the underlying spirituality demanded by the sanctity of the Sabbath rest. It is important to note that the spirituality of rest in no way undervalues the importance or dignity of work. Rather, the opening chapters of Genesis establish a pattern of work and rest; to do one without the other is a deviation from God’s created order. In fact, the fourth commandment combines both a command to work and to rest: “Six days you shall labour and do all your work and rest on the day of the Sabbath.” God affirms the sacredness of rest and work, with the two beautifully woven together.