Delighted to hear of your rural ramblings and insights and comments on being outdoors!
You may be thinking that neglect is an unusual or even irrelevant topic, to be considering in these letters. So let me explain!
When we hear or read the word neglect, we may automatically think of the NSPCC, Barnado’s, or other agencies working with vulnerable children and young people. We may also be reminded, of those we know who have experienced depression and in their ‘darkness’ have neglected their self-care. Similarly we may recall some older members of the community whose dementia makes them neglectful of looking after themselves.
While we ourselves may not be experiencing the above scenarios, I would like to suggest that we are all potentially at risk of ‘neglecting’ ourselves when we get so caught up with the hustle and bustle of everyday life that it leaves us feeling like a hamster on a wheel! We keep going, but find it hard to get off and stop.
Extended seasons of over activity can lead us to experience burn-out and these coupled with traumatic and challenging circumstances can result in breakdown. If we neglect our own well-being for too long we put ourselves at risk of becoming ‘lost’ and/or burnt out.
The antidote to this comes from regularly checking that our output does not exceed our input, and maintaining an appropriate balance between the two.
As well as reflecting regularly on our priorities to ensure that they are still appropriate for our current season of life.
In addition,taking time to rest, making time for exercise, silence and solitude, and managing our time well, will enable us to lead a more balanced life and will enable us to experience more fully the abundant life that Jesus offers us (John 10:10).
While we can take steps to ensure balance between activity, leisure, and rest, how much attention do we give to soul care?
Although we are encouraged on our journey of faith to travel with others, to be part of a church community, and to take to heart the writer to the Hebrews advice, not neglect the habit of meeting together (“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another,” Hebrews 10:25 NLT), it could be argued that we have sole-care for soul care! We have to avail ourselves of what is available to us through a variety of means to care for our souls.
There is a rich heritage going back centuries and centuries of wisdom and writings on the care of our souls and the activities we can engage in to promote our spiritual health. In our time there has been a resurgence of interest in this and writers such as Dallas Willard, Richard Foster, James Bryan Smith, John Ortberg and Peter Scazzero have been publishing relevant material to encourage us and to help us with soul care.
Remaining close to the Lord, pursuing the spiritual disciplines and making time for silence and solitude, all serve to equip us, to travel on, along the ancient paths, in our day and age. Pursuing these paths helps us to redress the balance in our lives and positions us to encounter more fully the abundant life that Jesus offers.
I encourage you to check out your priorities, plus your output and input, while you are on your travels, so that when you return you will have clarity about them and then the refreshment and renewal gained by your time away will not fade too swiftly!