“[Jesus] said to them, ‘Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.” Mark 6:31
Imagine the crowds that pushed around Jesus and his disciples as they moved from town to town. I’m sure that Jesus’ popularity had grown considerably because of his healings and other miracles, and the disciples ran errands, watched and learned, and were Jesus’ constant companions as they traveled. The passage above says that they didn’t even have time to eat because there were so many people demanding Jesus’ attention.
My first thoughts on this passage were about celebrities and how difficult it is for them to have privacy. Certainly we have heard a tremendous amount of complaining from them about the Papparazzi, and we have witnessed some of the horrendous things that have happened because of being hounded by cameras – Princess Diana is a good example. So I really sympathize with celebrities, no matter what profession they are in – entertainment, sports, politics, etc.
But celebrities aren’t the only ones who have problems with being interrupted or disturbed or too busy. All of us struggle at times with time – either too much time on our hands or too little. In this day and age, the majority of us, even retired folks, mostly just don’t have enough time. What has happened to fill our days with a full schedule that leaves little time even to eat?
I watch parents with children who are very active in so many activities all year long. Some of them have had the practice of having a date night which means that they find a babysitter so they can go out to eat, take in a movie, go for a walk, spend quiet time together to keep their relationship growing. There are also couples who don’t have time to do any of those things because one goes to work when the other arrives home – they can’t afford child care. Some people have two, three or even more jobs that they are trying to hold down in order to make ends meet, so they have neither the time or money to do recreational things.
Yet, we all have the opportunity to do one recreational thing. If we break the word down, we see that it is almost a phrase: re – creation – al. We can recreate our enthusiasm for life, our energy for our jobs or family or other relationships, our ability to “go with the flow” better, and our relaitonship with God if we take time apart. This might be ten minutes a day when we can “steal” time to drive in silence, go for a short walk, take a shower uninterrupted (maybe!), or some other restful activity that gives us a break from the daily routine. Re-creating ourselves comes from finding time for Sabbath.
Sabbath is time that we take to be with God, with family, with ourselves. It’s a stoppage of the daily “grind” and stopping to take a deep breath while we just ARE. I once gave out a three minute meditation to my congregations, encouraging them to put it in a conspicuous place where they would take a three minute break to just regroup. I don’t know how many actually have used it, but if even a few did, I hope it helped them.
We have Jesus’ own example for us. He told his disciples to “Come away and . . . rest a while.” He set the pattern and showed us the importance of rest and relaxation and quiet time: time for listening to God, to each other, to nature, to whatever helps us pause and give thanks or regroup or repair. Maybe this week, we can all find a little more time to turn away from the ordinary and give ourselves a break, even if it is only a short one.
Try it! You might find the rest of your day, your week, your life goes a little more smoothly.