Jesus made the disciples get into a boat
and precede him to the other side of the sea,
while he dismissed the crowds.
After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray.
When it was evening he was there alone. ~Matthew 14:22, 23
“Go to your room and don’t come down until I tell you!” –my mother’s favorite form of punishment. Oh, how I hated that. I’d go to my room and wonder how did this happened again and then sit there and do nothing (those were the days when bedrooms were simply rooms with beds where you slept—no TV’s, radios or books to occupy your time). I suppose my mother’s strategy worked, at least I think it reduced the behavior that prompted my mother’s remedy in the first place.
“Doing nothing often leads to the very best something” (Winnie the Pooh, Disney’s new Christopher Robin film) I went to the movies this past Friday evening and at the suggestion of a friend we saw Christopher Robin. I wanted to see another movie, but agreed to his choice. I could not believe how much I enjoyed seeing it and how it has inspired me to once again recall the importance of doing nothing. Spoiler alert: It’s a lesson Christopher has to learn all over again as a successful efficiency expert in a luggage manufacturing firm.
Finally, I have a friend who is dying of cancer. His friends, myself included, want to assure him of our love and prayers, but he emailed us all with the following request: “In lieu of prayers, please go be nice to someone.” This past Saturday, recalling his request, instead of doing my normal household chores, I helped a friend put in a window air-conditioner. That proved to be a challenge, but we succeeded and she later emailed our morning coffee group including a picture of the new AC, she wrote: “As you can see Dan was able to install my new AC and it’s working fine! So quiet! So cool! I am blessed! Thank you Dan!” Her simple statement warmed my heart and convinced me of the importance of my other friend’s request to be nice. I doubt that all would have happened if I hadn’t spend much time mulling over in the quiet of my home, (praying by myself) how I could honor my friend’s request.
Thank you Matthew for telling us about Jesus’ witness to the worth of doing nothing and all the great things that can follow, like walking on water, learning new behaviors, finding efficient ways of dealing with today’s problems, cool rooms to escape the soaring temperatures and the chance to fulfill a dying friends simple request. I pray in the quiet of my room as I write this, that I may never again forget this lesson.
Dan O’Donnell is a Passionist Partner and a longtime friend of the Passionists. He lives in Chicago.