“Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while…he saw a great crowd…like sheep without a shepherd…he began to teach…”
Today’s readings speak to me of rhythm and balance. The rhythm and balance of what it means to live the Christian life. The rhythm and balance of self-care…of soul-care!
The disciples had been sent by Jesus, they were out doing his work, being his presence. This presence/work takes intentionality, discipline, compassion, and energy. They returned with stories, experiences, new understanding, they were eager to share with him. Yet he noticed that the work is tiring, depleting even and invites them to step away by themselves and rest. Replenish the soul. Breathe in anew the very presence of the Lord to rekindle their spirit within.
How long were they in the boat, going to the alone place – we don’t know. Likely not too long as the crowds could travel on foot and beat them there – but long enough to refresh and renew.
These readings give us an insight into the love and care Jesus has for all of us. Through our Baptism, we are sent as disciples – do his work, be his presence – wherever we go, in the midst of our everyday lives. While life-giving, the work takes energy that can deplete us if we lose sight of the rhythm.
Like the first disciples, we are sent by Jesus and we return to Jesus. We share our experiences, we sit at his feet, we go off by ourselves – even if only for a few minutes – a breath, a pause, a quick conversation with the Lord.
The invitation always includes the balance or rhythm of doing and being. This gospel affirms for us that Jesus notices – he takes care of us and gives us what we need. We need rest, we need to be taught, we need to notice, we need to trust the Lord’s nudging and respond to the call wholeness, holiness, balance and rhythm.
Faith Offman is the Associate Director of Ministry at St. Paul of the Cross Passionist Retreat and Conference Center in Detroit, Michigan.