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  • Added February 29th, 2016
  • Filed under 'All Sorts'
  • Viewed 1886 times

Malolo;: A Tongan concept for Time-out

By Siosifa Pole in All Sorts

the value of renewal that come from 'time out' - Malolo

Mālōlō: A Tongan Concept for Time-Out
Before I explore the implications of this Tongan word, 'mālōlō', let me define its meaning. According to C. Maxwell Churchward's
dictionary of the Tongan language, the word 'mālōlō' means 'to rest, to die, be dead.' These definitions are closely related to the notion of 'time-out' in the contexts of sport and work. The English Dictionary & Thesaurus defines 'time-out' as 'a suspension of play to rest, discuss tactics, a brief rest period.' Whenever I play with my two daughters and they become tired they put up their hands in a 'T' sign, by which they remind me that they need time-out. They prefer to have a break from the game for they can't continue, being too exhausted to play or keep up their concentration. I have seen that sign used in other sports when the referee stopped the game and allowed a player to have break, or allowed the whole team to sit down with their coach and readdress their game plan. The concept of Time-Out reminds us that we are vulnerable creatures. After a period of hard work or a hard game we deserve to have time-out, otherwise we would lose concentration and diminish the quality of our effort. The phrase 'time-out', then, is the equivalent of 'mālōlō', which is to rest or to have a break from hard work.
There are three aspects of the word 'mālōlō' in the Tongan context I would like to emphasize, indicating the value of someone's hard work. Firstly, mālōlō may refer to someone who died as the outcome of hard work. We use a phrase in the Tongan language for such a person, 'mālōlō pe mohe 'a e tangata ngaue', meaning 'the resting or sleeping of a hard-working person.' This phrase depicts the integrity and importance of the dead person, because of the quality of work that he offered for his community. Because he has given his best and his all he deserves to have a sleep or a rest. He needs to have a time-out. Although the family will grieve for their loss it will be a healthy grieving, because they know that their loved one has done his best and now is at peace. Secondly, mālōlō refers to someone who is going on vacation. Such a person has been working hard at the work place, and his employer has given him a long time-out from work to rest. Sometimes this person might go overseas to visit a friend, or just stay home and do gardening or house duties. While this person is on leave he can reflect on his performance and at the same time regain energy before he starts back at work. Thirdly, mālōlō refers to intervals during working hours for workers to have their morning tea, lunch, and afternoon tea. Workers have the legal right to a work break in order to rest and to have refreshment. In doing so they regain energy and the concentration needed to be effective workers.
So the word 'mālōlō' reminds us of the value of resting time. There is a time to work and a time to rest. The Book of Ecclesiastes, chapter 3,
emphasizes the uniqueness of every period of time. "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven," says Ecclesiastes. If work is matter, then so is resting. We can't have one without the other. I believe we need both for they are both parts of God's creative order of which we are a part. William T. McConnell, in his book entitled The Gift of Time, states, "There is a scheduled rest, the seventh day, as a sign both of God's nature and of the complete rest which is ours to enjoy with our Creator" (p.53)
I was fortunate to have a period of time-out when I was on my Annual Leave, which is part of my work schedule every year. This time-out was not accidental, but planned according to the policy of the church and properly arranged with the Parish. My family and I enjoyed this time together at Owaka in the Catlins. Such a resting time allowed us to explore the beauty of the Catlins' natural environment. Each day was a pleasure because we were able to see and experience new things in nature. We enjoyed walking in the middle of the bush to see waterfalls and learn the names of our native trees. The beauty of the landscape and scenery attracted our attention and awareness. The song of the birds gave melody and harmony to our life every day. We could feel a sense of peace and comfort from each other's company. Mālōlō gave us this opportunity to reconnect with our family as well as to refresh ourselves for another year of service. There is a time to rest, and there is a time to work.
I would like to acknowledge the care and compassion of the Parish in giving me time-out (mālōlō) from work. I would like also to thank those who stepped in and took on my responsibilities while I was away from the parish. Without your concern for my wellbeing I wouldn't have had this opportunity. I believe everyone needs to have a break in order to function well in the work they do. Jesus set the example when he went up the mountain with three of his disciples for a time of prayer and rest. During this time of rest, Jesus' face was transfigured, his energy was renewed and his ministry was confirmed. I hope that we all have a chance to mālōlō when life is too busy and too stressful.
Siosifa Pole