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16th Sunday in OT (B)

Find time to take a pause. MARK 6:30–34

By Sandee and Hilary Bengochea

Today was busy and stressful. I had to make a trip into town and came back to the office tired, hungry, and quite overwhelmed. I then spent four hours on the computer in an icy air-conditioned room.

When I arrived home, feeling totally exhausted, I saw my teenaged granddaughter sitting alone on a brick in the garden. I found a cool drink and went out and sat with her.

She was looking at a frog. When asked why she was out here alone her response was, “I need to feel the sunshine on me, Gigi.” I thought to myself, “So do I” and so we sat and chatted about the frog and other seemingly mundane things. The wild mushrooms in the earth. Do we have snakes in the garden? What if we found an African snail? Both asking questions and giving answers that took us nowhere except being totally absorbed in conversation and giving each other our fullest attention. It was a sacred time.

After an hour together, I felt refreshed, and so in love with that child! It was what my soul needed! The pause.

Fr Laurence Freeman OSB writes “It is the white space between the words on a page that makes it readable. Without periods of silence and non-action, our words and our deeds jumble up into meaningless spirals of stress.”

Last year during the pandemic I spent nine months away from Hilary. Although I was physically safe, it was a time of great emotional stress. Perhaps what we would call an immense liminal space, venturing through strange and unfamiliar territory, see-sawing through the known and the unknown.

And yet there was great beauty in that darkness, a light that fought its way through the pain and turmoil.

The pause in my usual cycle of life that told me to, “come away to some lonely place all by yourselves and rest for a while” (Mk 6:31). Maybe it was the white space between the relationship that makes it all now make sense. It was here I rediscovered how much I needed his presence.

I missed his scent. The freedom I felt in having him around, the sharing of my intimate thoughts and feelings. And most of all, the deep silent hugs when all the emotions of grief and fear overwhelm me and I find his arms and lose myself for just one minute, the pause before the usual patterns of life resumes.

Now that I have journeyed through this and I am back home, I appreciate Hilary so much more, and there is less taking our relationship for granted even while trying to navigate through this hectic and turbulent time.

The world now finds itself in that vast white space, the pause, the liminal space, the space between ‘what was’. “The apostles rejoined Jesus and told him all they had done and taught” (Mk 6:30). And ‘What’s next’, we have no idea how to navigate ahead for “they were like sheep without a shepherd”.

Yet we are being challenged to rest in this space, to journey through it, to befriend it, surrender to it and understand the message, to discover what is the inner work that needs to be done as we prepare for the unknown like the actors in a sci-fi movie.

The human body was designed to rest a while, to spend a significant portion of the day unconscious and vulnerable.

Restorative theories claim that this time allows us to repair and rejuvenate, improve immunity, heal our damage, promote growth, and remove waste. And perhaps, not only physically, but spiritually and emotionally as well.

This time reminds me of the Zen saying, “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day – unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.”  Maybe we have been too busy and collectively, as a people of God we need to “come away to some lonely place all by yourselves and rest for a while”.

However, as Christians, we know there is always a footnote. To summarise Pope Francis in his homily on this gospel, we may not always be able to complete our rest because something urgent and unexpected occurs, disrupting our plans.

We must even now remain flexible enough to avail ourselves to the needs of others. “So as he stepped ashore he saw a large crowd; and he took pity on them … and he set himself to teach them at some length” (Mk 6:34).

What an exciting journey, this Christian life!


The gospel meditations for July are by Hilary and Sandee Bengochea who have been married for 41 years and have been actively involved in marriage and family life ministries for over 35 years. They are the parents of four children.

Hilary is an Aspirant in the Diaconate programme, and Sandee is involved in the Caribbean arm of the World Community for Christian Meditation.

They lead the group Bible Circles Meditation which practises Lectio Divina, Christian Meditation and warm hugs!