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The Rev. Laurence G. Byrne

E. H. Shepard’s illustration, first published in A.A. Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner in 1928

Toward the end of The House at Pooh Corner Christopher Robin tells Pooh that what he likes doing best is “nothing,” and goes on to explain that it is what you do when a grown-up asks you what you are going to do and you say “nothing,” and then you go and do it. Most of us don’t have the time to do just nothing as we might have done as children. Perhaps, though we should make the time to do it. 

A few weeks ago I had an incredibly busy week. It began with the parish’s annual meeting and was followed by two major day-long funerals as well as an additional small early morning funeral. I went into the week tired. I came out of the week with a positive test for COVID-19. And then I stopped, or perhaps I should say I was stopped. Completely. 

Although I don’t recommend ten days at Club COVID, it was not all bad. I am pretty careful with masks, and am vaccinated and boosted, but stress and tiredness were high enough to lower my resistance. 

For the first time in a long time, I had to take time out to heal and to rest. During my isolation time I learned a few things that might lead me, and perhaps you, to a more fruitful and holier Lent. 

First, carving out a little time for rest in this busiest time of year for altar guilds is not only okay, it’s scriptural. Am I the only one who forgets that the commandment is to love our neighbors as ourselves? I learned that the world did not end and nothing really fell apart because I was gentle with myself. 

Second, I was reminded that it really is all right to rely on others. As we walk through Lent, we do not do so alone. Jesus had his apostles and friends to lean on, and to both teach and learn with — and so do we. 

Third, I was reminded of the importance of taking retreat time. The retreat day for the Diocese of Long Island clergy happened to fall on a day I was stuck at home. As directed, I read Michael Curry’s book Love is The Way. It was a lot to absorb in one day, but I (true confession time) might well have just spent the day doing regular work had I not been ill. A retreat day only looks like doing nothing. I recommend the book to you as part of your Lenten observance. 

Please, even though you are going to be busy doing your ministry, take the time this Lent to rest, to share the work, and to read a good book. Do “nothing” for God so that you may be your best for Him.

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