How many marriages have failed due to not allotting time for conversation and love? How many children are delinquent, emotionally disturbed, depressed and floundering in life due to parents denying parenting time. Juggling a job, a marriage and a family finds many of us with not enough hours in the day.
I look back on the years of my 30’s. What a frantic, stressful, frenzied pace I kept. I was a young professor without tenure, with a nine-month teaching contract, three little children and without enough money. Tilling gardens, raking leaves and pruning shrubbery consumed whatever spare time I could find. I was also a pastor, preaching every Sunday morning and Wednesday night; giving me great spiritual delight but no money (which was proper for God’s glory and a test of my faith). All the luxuries I enjoy now — time to pray, time to read, time to write, time to reflect, time to sleep, time to exercise, time to be a husband and father — were all compromised then. It was only by the grace of God that I and my family survived those painful years.
U.N. statistics tell us that nearly half of the human race lives much like I did. These people are poor and desperate trying to stay alive. Most are denied an education and are thereby submerged in the flooded pool of menial and manual labor; a population that is often treated with inhumane disdain and suppression; a population living hand to mouth; a population chained to poverty; a population denied the leisure time to rest and to build ties with spouse, family, friends and God.
The world’s economy and commerce are competitively focused on these 3.5 billion down-trodden citizens of the world as the prime catalytic agent for profit-making. The world’s industry seeks out the world’s desperately poor. These, our fellow citizens of earth, struggle to stay alive. They are powerless, compelled to take whatever wages for their long and stressful days of labor. Security and comfort evades them every day. Living on less than the necessities of life, void of any health benefits, they abide often with sickness and death. Loneliness, stress and hopelessness barricades any leisure in their lives.
Ever propelled by greed, can the for-profit magnets of the world ever have mercy; mercy enough to trim profits so that those who labor might live? The necessity of some leisure for every human being needs to be universally respected. Leisure is never to be an out-of-reach luxury enjoyed exclusively by some.
“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” [Mark 6:31]
The Rev. John Burkhart Ph.D, is a retired Episcopal priest and professor of psychology
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