Having more time is most people’s dream. Imagine an extra day each week to do what you normally lack time for – to read, play golf or volunteer with a charity. It would be bliss. But the truth is, if a magic wand were waved and I suddenly had an eight-day week, my extra day probably wouldn’t be spent doing any of those things.
I found this out one leap year when a three hundred and sixty-sixth day dropped into our calendars to bring us into line with the earth’s orbit. Instead of reading, playing or volunteering, I spent that extra day working. What’s to say I wouldn’t treat an additional weekday the same?
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Not long ago I found myself with an extra day on my hands, so to speak – a free day between speaking engagements. With projects due and my laptop with me, I had again planned to spend it working but, on a whim, I went to the UK seaside town of Whitby instead.
I turned the day into a mini-retreat.
I got to my bed and breakfast and sat on the bed. My room was small but had lovely big windows. I looked out at the cottages next door with their hedges and trees and rustling leaves. I watched the birds and heard them sing while church bells rang in the distance. Over the next few hours I interspersed this sitting and staring with reading and praying. And something important started to happen.
Things that needed to change in my life began gently floating to mind. The reasons for my recent stress and exhaustion started to become clear, when they hadn’t been before. I became aware of things I needed to start doing or stop doing, and things that needed to shift in priority. It felt as though God was recalibrating my life.
Experiences like this rarely happen for me simply while resting or going on holiday. They only happen during times of prayerful retreat. And the upside was that my work in the following days became more joyful, productive and effective.
A leap year may add a day to our calendars, but it doesn’t add a day to our lives. What it can do is ask us how well we’re using the time we have. And in a workaholic age the healthiest thing may be to spend a few more days in little rooms by the seaside – in restful, prayerful retreat.
This excerpt is taken from the new gift book Reflect with Sheridan by Sheridan Voysey, an Australian-born, British-based author, speaker and broadcaster. Watch him explain the heart behind Reflect with Sheridan.