It has certainly been a busy term for our whole school community and no doubt many of our students are getting to the end of this term somewhat exhausted. The chance to experience a break from routine will no doubt be well received by many and I do hope that the coming two weeks provide such an opportunity. For those who will be travelling, I hope that you might travel safely and that the change of environment will bring about a commensurate change in wellbeing.

As we prepare for the break, I do want to encourage everyone to take a rest, to be rejuvenated in preparation for the term ahead. But how might we approach this time to ensure that we are able to rest and recreate well? In relation to this question, I was challenged by an article I read recently which turned my thinking upside down when it came to taking a break. Some people, it would seem, have discovered that taking regular short breaks is far more effective than less frequent extended holidays. One person described how they hadn’t taken a break longer than a weekend for four years. After reading this article, I was challenged to consider just how much time off I really need to decompress after a busy time at work? And would this be measured in days rather than weeks?

For many of us, our weekends are almost as busy as our weekdays. The regular weekend, consequently, is not really a break at all. But what if it genuinely was? What if we made an effort to set aside one day a week – just one day a week where we literally did nothing? What if we were able to adjust our expectations during the busy times of the year so that there was time each week which we set aside to rest, to relax and to recreate? What if we could slow our lives down on the weekend, if we could slow them down to the point where we were no longer in a rush from one thing to the next, but could appreciate that we are surrounded by beauty – beautiful surroundings, but also beauty in our social world, our cultural world, and beauty in the presence of God?

During the pandemic we had no choice. There were no overseas trips, not even any interstate options, which we could plan for and look forward to. We had to be content with going for walks with our families, going for bike rides, even shorter trips away for just a few days. Perhaps this is one aspect of the past two years that we might wish to retain – being out and about in our local environment and enjoying the simple things in life. Perhaps, as is suggested throughout the biblical narrative, we might be able to remind ourselves each week that we are not defined by our work, but rather by our relationships with our creator and with each other. After all, the greatest two commandments outlined by Jesus and recorded in Mark’s gospel (12:30 – 31) are

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The second is this: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no commandment greater than these.’

If I can finish where I started, I hope that everyone enjoys some time over the break to rest, to connect with one another, be reminded of what really matters in life and be refreshed for the coming term.

Dr James Pietsch