“Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” ― The Gospel According to Mark
“Every person needs to take one day away. A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future. Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence. Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.”
― Maya Angelou, Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now
I sit here writing and wondering if this is the most hypocritical reflection I’ll write, to date.
Why? Because after praying with the upcoming Gospel, I want to point to the importance of rest. Even Jesus had to step away and rest. The ragtag gang following him got tired and needed rest. And they took it ― when they weren’t thwarted by clamoring crowds.
It feels hypocritical for me to reflect on this because I am someone who doesn’t do “stopping,” never mind resting, well. I’m always on to the next task; the next thing. And I’ve been that way my whole life. I don’t sit well, as my spouse, my family, anyone who knows me well can tell you.
And guess what? I’m tired a lot! Earlier in my marriage I used to resent how Pete would relax in his recliner with the Star Tribune and tune in the Twins. The nerve! Sitting still after ten hours on his feet in the shop! How entitled! NOT. Now I realize that he modeled for a long time something I needed to improve upon, but I had a hard time getting the message.
Thank God for meditation. It’s the one time that I give myself over to stillness and stopping. And it took a bad car accident and brain injury to get me in gear seven years ago! Thick headed. Yup.
The eighteen months of COVID stress and lockdown have taken their toll. Yes, many of us had more “alone” time than ever, but that doesn’t mean it was restful. Perhaps we had someone at risk for complications if they got sick ― or perhaps that someone was us! Perhaps we had loved ones far away where the epidemic had accelerated. Or loved ones in denial about the gravity of what we were dealing with. Perhaps we felt financial impacts. Or had youngsters or young adults trying to deal with the dismantling of their school, sports, and activities lives.
I’m here to announce: It was stressful, not restful.
Now as we begin to come out of our caves, we need the injunction of this week’s Gospel more than ever. We need to regroup and refill. To be intentional about what we welcome back into our lives, and open to letting go of things that no longer serve us. To sit a while, before the artic chill blows in from Canada. To literally smell the flowers. Watch the birds. Contemplate the lake. Listen for the loons. I’ll be working on that in the days ahead. Perhaps I’ll report back in September. And you could do the same, if you like!
This weekend, I’ll be in New Jersey with our extended family remembering the life of my Uncle, John Hanley. I plan on filling up with some overdue hugs and conversation. I hope that in my absence you will enthusiastically welcome friend of Charis, friend of many of ours, Fr. Phil Rose, who will preside at Mass. Lucky you! I’ll be just taking off (hopefully) as you join Justin and Michael in the opening song. I hope you are part of providing a warm welcome to this wonderful friend and minister.
In gratitude for who you are in the world,
An Ecumenical Catholic Community
cháris Χάρις khar’ece
Our name means grace, good will, loving-kindness, favor; of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues.