Have you ever noticed that Jesus is never recorded as taking a holiday? He retired for the purposes of his mission, not from it. He was never destroyed by his work; he was always on top of it. He moved among people as the master of every situation. He was busier than anyone; the multitudes were always at him, yet he had time, for everything and everyone. He was never hurried, or harassed, or too busy. He had complete supremacy over time; he never let it dictate to him. He talked of my time; my hour. He knew exactly when the moment had come for doing something and when it had not.
If there is a symbol of our age, perhaps it is something that every factory worker does each day of their working lives -- I refer to clocking in. (Very soon probably they won't even have to do that; the clock will itself observe them by radar.) In the ancient world when a person entered a temple, each made a votive offering to a god or a goddess at the door. As twentieth century people file into their shrines, they obediently pay their due to the god that regulates their lives -- the clock. It is the clock that measures us, that silent witness that keeps our going in and our coming out and relentlessly records our every movement. That is where all our organization and machinery to free us from time, to save us time, has brought us. Never before have we had such control over things, and never before have we been so enslaved by them. And of nothing is this more true than of time.
And so we take a holiday, a vacation, to gain release from this bondage for a space, to stand back from the rush of things and breathe again. But a holiday is a respite, not a cure. The more we need holidays, the more certain it is that the disease has conquered us and not we it. More and more holidays just to get away from it all is a sure sign of a decaying civilization; it was one of the most obvious marks of the breakdown of the Roman empire. It is a symptom that we haven't learned how to live so as to re-create ourselves in our work instead of being sapped by it. A car should always be charging its battery as it runs. If it simply uses up without putting back, it has to go into dock to be recharged. It is not a sign that we are running particularly well if we are constantly needing to go into dock.