Rest, dreaming and protecting your family

It is March already, and our home is back to that familiar buzz of activity and chaos that always follows the quieter pace of school holiday time. It’s always a challenging transition. However, this year we were blessed to spend two weeks at the beach, which has made this transition so much easier.

In so many ways I can see how this summer family holiday, and more importantly, having quality family rest time, is such an amazingly precious thing for my family.

In previous years we haven’t always prioritised time away as a family. Other demands have so easily taken over, and it can be easy not to financially prioritise having a good family holiday! This year, we spent the two weeks swimming, reading, playing and catching up with good friends and family. Our family came home refreshed and a little more ready to face the year.

During his pastoral visit to the Philippines in January, Pope Francis offered some profound insights into just what is at stake when it comes to families having time to rest.

“The Scriptures seldom speak of Saint Joseph, but when they do, we often find him resting,… Joseph’s rest revealed God’s will to him… Rest is so necessary for the health of our minds and bodies, and often so difficult to achieve due to the many demands placed on us.”

Pope Francis reminds families that it was through “resting” that St Joseph was able to understand what was important for his family and what action he had to take next to protect them.

The Pope ups the ante even further by outlining how a lack of rest for families in today’s world has made them vulnerable to a new kind of modern threat when he said:

“The angel of the Lord revealed to Joseph the dangers which threatened Jesus and Mary, forcing them to flee to Egypt and then to settle in Nazareth. So too, in our time, God calls upon us to recognise the dangers threatening our own families and to protect them from harm…Be attentive. There is a new ideological colonisation that we have to be careful of, that tries to destroy families.”

The new “ideological colonisation” of family life could refer to so many things that are tearing apart family life today. But perhaps one of the most significant threats is the invasion of family rest time by other priorities and demands. I know how easily this happens in our family. When we don’t spend time relaxing together on the weekends or on holidays, our stress levels increase, and it’s our parenting that always suffers.

The Pope reminds us that through resting we learn to dream in the family.

“All mothers and fathers dream of their sons and daughters in the womb for nine months. They dream of how they will be. It isn’t possible to have a family without such dreams. When you lose this capacity to dream you lose the capacity to love, the capacity to love is lost.”

The Pope is reminding families to rest, so that they can dream, hear God and be mindful of what is really important.

Time to start committing to that next family holiday! There is a great deal at stake, and not just for your family.

“The future of humanity passes through the family” (St John Paul II).