Come away from the ‘busy-ness’ MARK 6: 30–34
The July/August vacation is here and for our nation’s youth, it is surely a time of rest and relaxation after the hectic term or semester and the stressful examination period.
Many school teachers are also afforded needed rest during this time to recuperate after an exhausting term, while parents usually take vacation time from their jobs and busy work schedules to organise family trips abroad or plan special outings and activities right here at home to get some additional quality time with their children.
While the July/August vacation is typically associated with vacation trips and occasions for rest and relaxation, some students choose to take the time to seek employment and to gain work experience.
However we choose to spend our July/August period, we can all agree that rest and relaxation are necessary parts of a healthy and balanced life. Whether we are afforded the opportunity to rest and relax during the July/August vacation or not, we do need rest time to enjoy life, rejuvenate our energies and to centre our lives ever so often. Work is important, but so too is rest since one does not exist without the other.
In last weekend’s gospel we see Jesus placing a high value on work by sending out the apostles, in pairs, to preach the Good News of the kingdom and to cure diseases in the neighboring towns and villages. This weekend, however, we read of His placing a high value on rest as He invites the apostles to “come away to some lonely place all by yourselves and rest for a while”.
As we reflect on the value of working and resting, we also call to mind the ‘busy-ness’ of our lives. Picking up the phone to invite a friend to an event you’re having or attending is very likely to receive an “I’m not sure I’ll be able to make it; I’m really busy these days”.
Almost everyone is busy with work of some kind. Many of us claim that we just do not have sufficient time to do some of the things we enjoy. Where did our time go? Are we really busy as we say we are? Where then do some of us manage to get the time to binge-watch series after series on the internet if we claim to be so busy?
What about those “rest times” when you’re just sitting or lying down at home bored out of your mind? I am always mystified and intrigued at the paradoxes of human existence. We say we are very busy, yet we know to ourselves that we waste a lot of time.
Some of us work very hard at the expense of our health (a lack of exercise, quality rest and a proper diet) in order to make the money to pay the bills, afford the finer things and send the children to school, and then we get ill, and we spend all the money we worked hard for to restore our health which we took for granted.
In all our working, relaxing and general ‘busy-ness’, consider that there is a difference between relaxation and reflection. Both involve pulling away from our natural ‘busy-ness’, but we can spend lots of time relaxing and ‘doing’ all manner of things within that time without ever spending any quality time ‘being’ and reflecting on our lives.
Jesus invites us ever so often to “come away to a lonely place all by ourselves” because He wants us to relax and enjoy down time yes, but also to reserve some of it for doing the work of reflecting upon and examining our lives.
Come away from the noise, the parties, social media and the series binge watching, and spend some time in stillness in God’s presence, for St Augustine reminds us, “our hearts are restless until they rest in God”.
The Gospel Meditations for July are by Denzil Williams, Moderator for Youth and Young Adult Ministry of the Southern Vicariate. He has been actively engaged with delivering talks and facilitating workshops and retreats for over ten years within faith-based organisations and schools across Trinidad and Tobago. He also is the author of two self-help books, The Gift of Emotional Pain and The Spirituality of the Obvious.