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Many of us choose not to holiday during the school summer break, but many others have no choice. Many of us, when we do have holidays, are able to travel abroad and seek some sun, adventure, new experiences and to visit new places, but many others are not able to do this. Even those who usually do have the wherewithal to travel abroad have been limited: first by the coronavirus lockdowns and restrictions and now by flight cancellations or strikes. Some reading this never leave their homes because of illness or frailty.

   Living in Dorset we know that many people choose to come to this county for their breaks. There is positive and negative in this – it brings money into our villages and towns but second homes and holiday houses can have also an adverse effect on permanent residents’ desire for community, and local shops, pubs and businesses out of season.

   I’ve been reflecting on what this means for us and going back to the roots of the word “holiday”. We are so fortunate to live in this beautiful county that others want to share; but I wonder whether sometimes we take it for granted. How often do we stop and take in its beauty, the variety of its wildlife and wonderful coastline? And having done that, how often do we wonder at creation, and if we are people of faith, give thanks to God for all of that?

   The word “holiday” has its roots in the phrase “holy day”. The concept of time off originated in the idea that certain days were days to refrain from work. Those days away from the daily grind had a two-fold aim: to provide space for worshipping God and celebrating church festivals (which often provided a high level of feasting) and for rest and re-creation.

   Our 24/7 world is a very different time from that when the idea of having a holiday break originated. But taking space to stop and rest and for worship and community is just as important. Constant busy-ness leads to a broken world: a world where people no longer know how to enjoy what is around them; a world where they become too consumed with me and mine and less concerned about community and those who fall behind; a world where finding time just to “be” without any demands has become virtually impossible for many; a world where mental health is poor for so many and where contentment has become a much rarer experience. Music is important but many people today have become unable to live with silence and the respite it brings, and the depths of experience it can give both to our spiritual and to our emotional development.

   Space for rest and attention to the world around and to God are important for all of us, whether we holiday abroad, here or not at all. Perhaps over the coming month, you might like to think about how holiday can be something not restricted to going away to an exotic place for a couple of weeks a year and a more every day part of life in our homes and our villages, as we make space to stop, renew ourselves and allow God to minister to our souls.


With best wishes


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