Resting and relaxing during the vacation is hard work (Summer tales 1/3)


Christian Life

Evert van Vlastuin, CNE.news

Tecklenburg is cosy and romantic. Photo CNE.news, Evert van Vlastuin

Resting and sleeping are essential to a healthy life. During the working season, this doesn’t always function. Just like eating properly and exercising enough. But during the vacation, it must work.

For many years, I was unaware of how relaxation worked. After work, I used to read a newspaper or a book or have a good conversation.

Now I think relaxation is precisely that: focus on something else instead of “rest”. As soon as you think: “I have to rest now, oh, please, why doesn’t it work, I really need to”, it will not work. But switching your concentration to something that is not your work causes you to “plug out” from the everyday jobs.

Evert van Vlastuin (1972) has been working as a journalist from the early 90s.

Evert van Vlastuin

He has interviewed several Nobel Peace Price winners as the former South African president F. W. de Klerk and two leaders from Northern Ireland, John Hume and David Trimble.

From 2001, he worked as a foreign news reporter for the Dutch Reformed Daily. Since 2021, he works as managing editor for the start-up CNE.news.

Well, that is the theory I have developed myself. That theory very much fits into my preferences too. I find it very difficult to do nothing the whole day. Actually, I believe man is made to do something. To work or to do something else. Not to sleep in in the morning, not to go late in the evening. Let’s be active and go for a walk through the forests with a backpack full of bread and coffee, as we did last Saturday. Just being active.

Cosy and romantic

Around our house, there are always enough jobs to do. We went on vacation for a week to forget the workload for a while. Many years ago, we paid a short visit to the small German city of Tecklenburg, and we went back there. Honestly, it was quite a surprise how beautiful that place is. It is a small antique town on a mountain. It was once built around a castle, but only a ruin remains.

The city is full of half-timbered houses along narrow winding streets. Very cosy and romantic.

God's blessing is essential, this German expression says. Photo CNE.news

Tecklenburg has everything that you need as a family. Lovely places to discover during a city walk: from a small Jewish cemetery to incredible panoramas. And a swimming pool at the border of the forest. Very remarkable were the many Biblical texts on the facades. It took an effort to decipher the old German. No doubt that in previous centuries people lived nearer spiritual things than we do.

Climbing and walking in the forest near Tecklenburg. Photo CNE.news

Going to church in another country is always inspiring. Nothing is easier than unlocking your laptop on Sunday morning and logging in to the livestream of your home church. But worshipping somewhere else also encourages brothers and sisters while broadening your horizon. Therefore, we went to a small Reformed church in a neighbouring large city.

Socialist in evangelical family

Having leisure time allowed me to watch some films and documentaries that had passed in the months before. The most remarkable was Honecker und der Pastor. In the eighties, Honecker had been the latest leader of the Eastern German GDR. After his departure as the leader in 1989, the Socialist was no longer safe. He found shelter with his wife in the house of the pastor-director of an institution for the mentally disabled. In this way, Erich and Margot Honecker came in the evangelical family of Uwe Holmer.

In 2013, I had interviewed Mr Holmer about the book that he wrote about his life and especially the change after the Fall of the Berlin Wall. I wanted to see the new film ZDF made about that story for that reason.

Honecker had to find shelter with an evangelical family. Photo CNE.news

For the Holmer family, giving shelter to the former dictator was not self-evident. The GDR regime had discriminated against the church for decades. And from the Holmer family, at least two children had not been able to finish college because of their beliefs. The State and especially the Stasi (the powerful secret service) meant that it had the task of preventing the church from influencing the people. The State had appointed herself as the protector of the collective mind.

But after the collapse, the GDR leader had to find shelter in this Christian family. The film makes it crystal clear why the pastor did so: he believed that God had sent this couple to show His love to them and what forgiveness is.

(The film can only be watched in Germany itself. But instead, you can watch the 32-minute documentary all over the world. That gives both the highlights of the film and shows interviews of Mr Holmer. If German is a problem, you can switch on the translation of the internet page and the subtitles in the video. The subtitles should be in your language then.)

I would not enjoy it to spend the whole year behind the screen. But during the vacation, it was helpful to relax.



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