While for many of our frontline health workers and other "key workers" their levels of stress are on the rise, for many other people daily life and routines are going to simplify or slow down. That may not be a bad thing entirely. Most of the time the pace of life is exhausting, and we our schedules are packed full of different things to do, people to see, and places to be. There may be things about the importance of rest and relationships that we can relearn and rediscover by being forced to do life differently for a while. That's a reflection shared in Eugene Peterson's book on the psalms "A Long Obedience in the Same Direction". He has a refreshing perspective on Psalm 127 - whose opening words are also the founding motto of the City of Edinburgh: "Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labour in vain...In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat - for he grants sleep to those he loves." This tells us that there is something more important than work and busyness, achievement and acquisition.
Interestingly, the NYT writer David Brooks has written about the difference between CV virtues and Eulogy virtues. CV virtues are about our skills and achievements - the things you put on a CV to advertise yourself to an employer. Eulogy virtues are about our character - the way that we live and its impact for good in the lives of others. So much of life and education in the western world is focused on the former CV virtues - but he points out that at your funeral the legacy that we are remembered for is defined by the Eulogy virtues. He suggests that much of the modern crisis of meaninglessness and loneliness is because we have pusured one over the other.
The Psalmist however goes on from talking about the realm of work and busyness, to talking about family and relationships: "Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court". Taken in its broadest possible sense, this tells us that the most meaningful things in life is not defined by what I have achieved for myself, but rather the life that we share together in relationship with others. Someone expressed the implications of this well in a text message yesterday: "In these days of physical distance we have to find more ways of being social". In these days let's be open to God simplifying and redirecting our lives to the most important things: giving and receiving love to and from those in proximity around us.