St. John, who was the Bishop of Ephesus, had a
tame partridge with which he often amused himself in his hours of recreation.
One day a stranger came who was armed with a bow and arrows. He had journeyed a
long distance to see the bishop. At the moment he arrived, he found St. John
playing with his pet, allowing it to perch on his hand, his shoulder, or his
head. The stranger seemed very much surprised that a man who, as he thought,
ought to be occupied exclusively with spiritual matters, should spend his time
playing with a bird. He ventured to express his astonishment to the bishop. In
answer, St. John put a question to him, asking why he had unstrung his bow? The
man replied: “Because if it was kept strung, it would lose its force.” “The same
principle,” St. John said, “holds true in regard to us mortal men, when we have
much work and many cares. In order not to sink under the weight a man must relax
his mind with some innocent amusement.” Thus it will be seen that recreation is
not merely allowable, but necessary, and the day ever so holy, innocent
recreation is not inconsistent with one’s duty to God.