Last night I went to a movie. I don’t usually go to movies because I get busy and I don’t like to take that much time out of my day or night to do something unproductive like sitting in a theater. But it was my daughter’s idea and she can talk me into a lot of things I wouldn’t normally do. We saw “Everything, Everywhere, All at Once” (which, ironically, is about a mother-daughter relationship). It was a great movie! I loved it and came away with my imagination revived and energized. Today I am ready for work! I always forget how productive unproductive activities are.
Last year I watched the series “The Crown” on Netflix. It is about the life of Queen Elizabeth and the British royal family. It was a good series overall, full of interesting characters. There was one scene in particular that I remember vividly. Margaret Thatcher had been invited to the queen’s castle in Scotland where the family would hunt and play games and generally recreate. Thatcher was very uncomfortable with all of this unproductive idleness. She hid in her room secretly working while the family romped around on horses. She found them frivolous; they found her tedious. Finally, the queen’s sister, Margaret, sick to death of the priggish Prime Minister, confronted her about never taking time to relax and enjoy herself. Thatcher said, incredulously, “what can be gained by time off?” Margaret’s one word response was a classic: “Perspective,” she sneered.
Summertime is nature’s annual reminder to relax, have fun, and gain perspective. For those of us who have been feeling stressed, overworked, or who feel the weight of a hundred tasks on our shoulders, perspective is a much needed corrective. My kids’ unexpected, unstructured, unplanned visits recently have shaken up my schedule and forced a little right sized review of my work schedule. I have gone birdwatching, cooked fun dinners, watched movies, and most importantly, relaxed. It has been productively unproductive to say the least. I’m a better pastor for it.
This summer I hope and pray that you can take time away from your routine and relax. If my experience is any measure, all of your tasks will be there for you when you get back, just the same as when you left them. But, you may be different. You may come back with your imagination revived, your energy renewed, and your perspective shifted just enough to see exciting possibilities ahead.