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CHRISTIAN VIEWPOINT: Faith invites me to climb off the relentless conveyor belt of busyness


By John Dempster

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John Dempster outside John's, a café in the 1950s section of the Beamish open-air museum, while on holiday.
John Dempster outside John's, a café in the 1950s section of the Beamish open-air museum, while on holiday.

We were just back from our holiday in Northumberland, where we’d enjoyed relaxing walks in (mostly!) sun-lit towns and beaches.

I was walking down Church Street in an equally sunny Inverness, navigating my way round cheerful groups of tourists. Remembering the lazy joy of Bamburgh the week before, I muttered: “I wish I was retired!”

But then I remembered: “Hey! I am retired!” And I asked myself: “How come I’m so busy?” When I thought of all the writing and editing and website work, it seemed that precious days were rushing past, glimpsed fleetingly through the windows of my express-train busyness.

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I realised more was amiss than just my busyness. I’d been distancing myself from the world, not enjoying it for its own sake, but mining it for thoughts and ideas I could use in my writing. And I’d been prioritising my programme at the expense of other people, failing to engage fully with them.

“You’re retired!” I told myself - or God told me. “There’s no need for busyness! Use your gifts calmly, quietly, with discrimination. And always have time for people! Love life!”

I wondered whether the distancing myself from the world which I mentioned is the reason why, though seeing the beauty in something, I so rarely experience it as beautiful, though understanding the reason for other people’s joy I so rarely am able to enter into it.

‘Just my quirky personality,’ I’d thought. But I’m wondering if in the past, as a way of coping with things which hurt or threatened me, I disassociated myself from my body, putting all the emphasis on my mind and my spirit.

But I am an embodied person. I am discovering a joy in growing aware of my physical presence in the world, learning to listen better to my body and rejoice in it.

I see all this in a specifically Christian context. Faith invites me to climb off the relentless conveyor belt of busyness, to find stillness and peace, connectedness with others, and a self-worth based not on achievement but on the love of God. Christian faith is embodied faith, inviting me to rejoice, body mind and spirit in being God’s beloved.

I’m aware how incredibly fortunate I am to be retired, and well, and with an adequate pension. But the insight that I could step away from busyness and live joyfully, awakening to my body came with all the force of a revelation, a sudden conversion. How could I have been so foolish not to see this before?

I am quite sure days will come when I will not feel so positive, but I will never forget this recent experience, never forget that what I have seen is reality.


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