Take a break: Reading week at Deschatalets!

Beware of the fate of Don Quixote:
In short, he so busied himself in his books
that he spent the nights reading from twilight till daybreak
and the days from dawn till dark;
and so from little sleep and much reading his brain dried up
and he lost his wits.
Ok, whilst I am not at the stage where my brains risk 'drying up', the Reading Week was greatly welcomed!  I've noticed over these past few weeks that I feel like a wind-up toy that is...well winding down. I'm less and less able to do high volumes of work at high intensity (which is probably no harm!). I feel the need for more breaks and am less governed by the clock. I suppose this is one of the advantages of being a full-time student, I can permit myself to work at my own pace.  When I was younger, I would go for long periods of time without resting much and trying to squeeze in as much as possible.  I am a night owl and like to work late in the evenings but that isn't always compatible with a 5.30am start! I often joke saying that if I were ever to found a religious order, we could sleep in in the mornings and do our mission at night. That said, as Disciples of the Divine Master, often we do carry out our mission at night as we have Night Adoration offered for our priests in difficulty and in reparation for the sins of the media, especially all the newspapers, magazines etc which are printed at night and more than often do not preach the Gospel or Christian values.
So this week I learned how to relax! To let my brain break up the monotony and try not to go stir crazy sitting on the same subject for hours on end. This can happen quite easily with Canon Law! I tried to learn the challenging art of doing absolutely nothing. Surprisingly enough, it is hard to do 'nothing'!
I started my study week by spending 4 days with my religious sisters in our communities in Montreal so that was a great beginning for me. It was wonderful to be part of the community, follow the programme, sing in choir, have daily Eucharistic Adoration and just be  in the company of the sisters. When I came back to Ottawa, it was time to do some study, reading and preparation for another exam next week. It is amazing how hard it can be to get back into a rhythm of work even after a break of just a few days. On Wednesday, some of us went on a pilgrimage/visit to the shrine of the newly canonised St. Kateri and the Oratory of St. Joseph in Monteal (more about that in the next post!).

The past few days I have been trying to catch up with reading and trudge through this material for the exam which is somewhat frustrating. The bleakness of the autumn is coming down upon us as we watch the trees slowly lose their leaves and stand there before the nakedness of life: what pathetic fallacy!  I find myself asking questions about the bigger questions, thinking about life, why am I here studying Canon Law thousands of miles from home....yes, the autumn does provoke certain pangs of homesickness too! So Reading Week has become a contemplation week for me...taking time out to appreciate the small things in life which ultimately are the big things in life!
It's about making time for others, being attentive, cementing friendships and creating new experiences and looking out for each other whilst being a companion to each other as we walk this bizarre journey we call life!
Everyone needs regular periods of relaxation to recharge. Getting together with friends, going to movies, listening to your favourite music, or taking a long, steaming bath: I'm sure that you can imagine many excellent ways to rejuvenate and everyone has their own best way to relax. Just remember that zoning out in front of the TV is not true "down time." Have a look at the little picture below....50 ways to take a break! Well I think I covered a fair few of these today!!! So how do you relax or take a break? Remember to look after yourself and take those breaks! And don't forget to finish with the last one: "Give thanks! ".