The last two weeks have been idyllic. I’ve been at home, with hardly anything to do but lie out in the sunshine with a good book and a tall glass of iced coffee. Every day I’ve been able to have long talks with my parents and siblings over delicious meals; I’ve walked to do errands instead of driving, just to have time out in the sunshine; I’ve reveled in my freedom from the endless rounds of emails and phone calls that defined my life back at school. Every night, as my family gathers for our daily time of reading the Bible together, I can’t help but feel that the day has been perfect.
I am reminded of the section of Surprised by Joy in which C.S. Lewis describes his ideal day. He is quite clear that, although this day would be perfectly happy for him, it is not the sort of day that he would choose for every day. A certain way of life can be made up of perfectly innocent activities—talking with friends, reading good books, going on long walks—without being a good way for Christians to live at all times, because we are called to do more than simply muddle along without actively hurting others. It is not that C.S. Lewis’s day would make extraordinary problems for anyone else, or exhibit any glaring breaches of charity; it is just that it would be completely devoid of concern for others than himself. And this sort of life, being muffled up in a blanket of pleasant habits all centered on the self, is not the way for a Christian to live.
This is not to say that every moment of our lives has to be filled to the bursting point with charitable activities and reaching out and extreme acts of service. I believe that it is a great temptation (perhaps especially for Harvard students?) to think that the world will break down if we stop working for an instant, and to goad ourselves on to impossible feats without a rest out of an elevated sense of our own importance or a misguided feeling of guilt for any chance to recharge. This, too, must be resisted, because by driving ourselves so mercilessly we ignore the goodness of God’s creation and fail to be thankful to him, the Creator of rest and enjoyment.
So, as I enjoy my time at home, I do not feel guilty for my time without duties other than the ordinary task of loving the people with whom I come in contact in my daily life; but neither do I allow myself to believe that this life of effortless ease should be the ideal that I strive to attain always. There is a time for everything, a time for work and a time for rest. It is for us to remember that both are necessary.