The story is told of an explorer who was making an expedition on foot, through the Amazon rainforests of South America, with some native guides.
For two days they made excellent progress and covered a large distance, much to the explorer’s satisfaction. However, on the third morning when it was time to set off again, the explorer found his guides sitting on the ground, looking very sombre and showing no signs whatsoever of moving.
The explorer went up to the leader of the guides and irritably asked what was wrong. “It is a very serious problem, sir,” he replied. “The men say they cannot move any further until their souls have caught up with their bodies.”
This story helps to gently remind us of the need for balance in our lives, to make time for ourselves, for others, and also for God. Life is for living and yet it can get so choked up by the busyness of life. You know what I am talking about because we have all experienced it in some way or other, especially before the current Covid19 pandemic – increasingly heavy traffic and delays on our journeys, incessant ringing of mobile phones, congestion and pollution, deadlines at work or places of study, striving to keep up with the latest technology, keeping up with the neighbours, the constant to-ing and fro-ing so characteristic of modern-day life.
I remember a priest once preaching on what he called ‘the pollution of haste’ and, when you think about it, there is a great truth in that phrase. Our minds are constantly pre-occupied and our bodies are in a state of practically perpetual motion. So much to do, so little time to do it. The result is that we can neglect our inner selves which can, in turn, impact on those around us. As we begin to emerge gradually from pandemic-related restrictions, we have to re-adjust ourselves again to what some people call ‘the new normal’ and that will bring its own challenges for us in a variety of different ways wherever life finds us.
These coming months are traditional holiday months – an opportunity for us to get out of whatever fast lane we find ourselves in and to value those things which are important to us and that, perhaps, we took for granted before Covid19 struck – a chance to unwind in the company of family and friends in accordance with guidelines, to get some sun (hopefully!!!), to recharge our batteries, to savour a less frantic and frenetic way of life for a while.
Whatever you are doing over these coming months, remember to take time for yourself, for those near and dear to you, and for your relationship with God. Give yourself a chance to regain a sense of balance in your life and let your soul catch up with your body. We all need a break from our minds, our feelings, our life, our world. We need to get away for just a little while and allow our souls time to rest. We owe it to ourselves and to those around us.
I hope that you will find that time and that it will be good for you.
Seán Coll is the Director, Kilmore Diocesan Pastoral Centre, Cavan