40 Days of Rest

Si Smith 40

“Come unto me all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest”

I’m not sure what it was that Jesus saw in his disciples that moved him to say these lovely words, but in our treadmill of a culture, constantly taught to believe that life isn’t all we hoped for because we aren’t trying hard enough, they are always timely.

But then along comes Lent, with its demands that we give up some of our few remaining comforts. It is no surprise that when life seems hard, the last thing we want to do is to make it harder. But the call to self denial is not what we think. The goal is to say no to our inhumanity, to our failure to be what we are created for. To say no to the nonsense and choose a simpler, richer life. Instead of seeking distractions from our boredom we seek life in all its fulness.

Lent starts in a week’s time, on the 13th February. So you have time to talk, and make some plans. And our challenge is to make some choices to bring more balance to our lives, to reconnect with God, with creation and with your own creativity. Below are a list of suggestions, or suggest some of your own. Do one of them regularly  or try lots of different one. Comment below to share your experience.

  • Get a good night’s sleep. It sounds so simple, and yet we so rarely do it. I love the very poignant Pete Doherty quote that says “The rush that you get from having a good night’s sleep is so exotic: to feel powerful and clean, capable and potent”.
  • Make a meal for yourself or a friend. Eat slowly.
  • Listen to people. Don’t interrupt, and don’t be afraid of the silences. They are an invitation.
  • Disconnect – Read our pledges to disconnect from technology.
  • Read the wonderful “Do nothing to change your life” – a manifesto of simplicity.
  • Learn the joy of silence. Just sit and enjoy the presence of God. Tell your chattering mind to take a break.
  • Read all 4 Gospels, by reading two chapters a day. Reading plan here.
  • Perform simple acts of kindness – sign up to 40 Acts.
  • Make something instead of buying something. Draw, paint, pick up an old hobby. Sing.
  • Clear out the junk. We get trapped by clutter. Simplify, give things as gifts or to a charity shop, stop saving things ‘just in case’.
  • End the day with Evening Prayer.

[Image of Jesus in the Wilderness from the ’40’ Series by Si Smith]

3 thoughts on “40 Days of Rest

  1. Sally Jacobs was talking to me yesterday about running retreats for people in their own home – what a lovely idea.

  2. Thanks for putting this together Mark!
    It’s so good to have the opportunity to ‘disconnect’ but at the same time be part of the COTC community. Knowing there are many of us undertaking this challenge makes me feel stronger.
    As my mind tends to wander during traditional forms of meditation, it has been really good to use the ‘morning pages’ technique from the book ‘The Artist’s Way’. This is just writing three A4 pages of whatever comes into your head each morning. Doing this seems to help me shed a lot of distractions and makes space in my mind for quietness. I hope I can keep it up for 40 days!

  3. Very poignant Mark. I think we spend too much time thinking of what we want and, not enough about how much we already have. Whilst the shops are so full here of enticing items and choice, there’s just too many people in the world who haven’t even got a shop to go to. I think Lent is a good time to reflect on just that.

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