The Rector Writes – work/life balance; conflicts and humanity

As we embark on the month of September we face into a new season of activities. Not least of these are our Autumn Fair planned for 20th September and Parish Forum on 18th October. Personally, I have been lucky enough to have had the opportunity of having a good holiday which has helped recharge batteries and give renewed energy! But this has served to convince me that the “Holy Grail” of today’s living is the achievement of an appropriate work/life balance – the balance between work and/or external commitments and time for oneself and one’s family. The difficulty of capturing this elusive goal is made all the more difficult as it is unique to each individual – what works for one may not necessarily work for another. Nevertheless, it is an essential endeavour that everyone must pursue if they are to find contentment, happiness and fulfilment as well as being able to grow as individuals both mentally and spiritually. And as strange as it may seem, this search for balance applies to those who never worked outside the home or may be retired just as much as to those who are currently working! There are numerous factors which pose difficulties in this endeavour and which add significant stress factors – not least of which are the definition of a person’s work role/hours in the light of rapidly developing technologies which offer instant communications with related expectations.

In response to a recent clergy survey conducted in these united dioceses of Dublin and Glendalough, a working group has been set up by the Archbishop to investigate the issue of clergy stress. The purpose of this group is to investigate best practices in self-care as well as making recommendations of appropriate support structures that may be required. Research is ongoing into Church models and practices in the United Kingdom, United States and Canada as well as elsewhere on this Island – both in the Church of Ireland and in other Christian denominations. Secular models and practices within the Caring professions are also being studied as well as current Health and Safety at work guidelines. Hopefully this project will lead to healthier clergy who are better enabled to move Christ’s Church forward in these challenging times.

Unfortunately, while some of us were attempting to de-stress, there are many who find themselves in chronic distress at this time! The bloodshed and loss of life in the Gaza conflict is very difficult to justify as a proportionate Israeli response to Palestinian aggression of a “David and Goliath” parable. It could be argued that Hamas’ reckless policies are a result of have nothing more to lose – dying is preferable to merely existing in a country that is effectively cut off from the outside world. They are surrounded to the north and east by Israel and to the south by Egypt, both of whose borders are sealed. To the west lies the Mediterranean which is totally blockaded by the Israeli navy.

The plight of the Christian community in Northern Iraq in the face of Islamic State jihadists is also cause for major alarm. At best, some have been driven from their homes and livelihoods, but there are also reports of forced conversions to Islam, torture and executions. It is difficult to comprehend in the 21st century that such brutality and inhumanity can still be carried out in the name of God, Allah or Yahweh/Jehovah. It beggars belief that any individuals of groups can so strongly believe that they have such a monopoly of the “Truth” that they can justify such immoral and brutal behaviour. Perhaps we can all learn from St. Paul’s words to the Romans, “I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought, but to think with sober judgement, each according to the measure of faith God has assigned.” (Romans 12:3b).

Let us continue to keep in our prayers all the troubled areas of our world, that justice may prevail and that hatred and inhumanity may be finally overcome.

With every blessing,

Rev. John Tanner, Rector.

Tel: 289 3154 / 086 302 1376

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