Hereford Times Article - 06/08/2020

Published on: 21st August 2020

My son works for a large company in London. Last week he told me his boss gets 800 emails a day. As the summer holiday season gets into full swing, I bet he needs one! There is no doubt that emails are quite convenient, but they do create a culture of expectation. If we send one we expect it to be answered. It has contributed to the pace of life that’s leaving a trail of mental health carnage in its wake. In contrast, one of my predecessors in his biography said he was so busy because he received up to 20 letters a day. Mind you, he did try and get around the county on a horse.

It seems that every advance in communication technology lies to us. It promises it will make life more convenient, but all it does is suck more time out of our day and make us more exhausted.The summer holidays are an opportunity to stop and take stock for a bit (at least if we turn the emails and phone off). There’s a reason Christians believe that one day of the week should be a day of sabbath. Life simply works better if you have a proper rhythm of work and rest. When I was an agronomist I had a client who because of his Christian faith, felt he shouldn’t work on a Sunday, nor expect his employees to either. As an arable farmer at harvest time you might argue that was a risky strategy. However, he always seemed to finish harvest before his neighbours who worked through. Because they were fresher for 6 days they just made less mistakes and worked much more efficiently. I am not so naïve as to suggest that as a strategy for other farmers locally. I do realise how complex and difficult modern farming is. But it does make you think.

Finding a rhythm of work and rest is vital to our mental health. Too much ‘rest’, as lockdown has proved, can be bad for you as well. Sabbath is one of those principles for living that we find in the 10 commandments. I realise some of them need translating into a modern context (coveting your neighbour's ox, donkey or slave a problem for anyone?) but they are boundaries that are there to protect not restrict.Life just works better if we follow the makers instructions.

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