Thought for the Day - Rev Rob Marshall - 18/08/2012
Whatever happened to the silly season ? You know, that time of the year when the wisdom of the 1st century poet Horace is adopted by news editors: “Mix a little foolishness with your serious plans; it’s lovely to be silly at the right moment”.
I was speaking to a national Sunday newspaper journalist this week who admitted that the choice of Prime Minister’s holiday footwear was struggling to get its usual coverage. The Olympics had got in the way for a start. And since then there has been a constant drip feed of diplomatic wrangles, train fares and franchises, university places and heinous crimes. It’s hardly what the Americans call “the slow news season” or, much more dramatically in France, “la saison morte” – the dead season.
One of the great advantages of times like this if the traditional silly season has kicked in, is that the usual and relentless rhythm of life is positively disturbed. Perhaps more than ever, in a 24 hours news culture we need those moments in the year – the period between Christmas and New Year is another – when we can pause a little.
In the very first chapter of the first book of the Bible we are told categorically that there is a right time to pause and to reflect. We work, we go about our business, but equally important is that time of the day and of the year when we should quite simply be more reflective and to take stock. This is a recurring theme, again and again, in the Wisdom literature – be still, reflect, pause, stop it!
This understanding of human beings needing contrasting times of activity and non-activity has always been my spiritual argument for one day in the week to be different from all the others. Whilst the commercial reasoning in the depths of a recession for shops to be open longer on Sundays following the Olympic experiment might seem a good idea, isn’t it really wonderful that one day stands out from all the others for the majority – even if we rely on the goodwill of others to keep the world going round?
For we all need a change. Life shouldn’t really be one concentrated mass of complicated issues where we have no time whatsoever to contemplate the meaning of what or who we are in it all?
One of the Old Testament Proverbs suggests that if you answer a silly question you are just as silly as the one who asked it. But silly questions and silly seasons can break the pattern and make us smile.