It was Winnie the Pooh who said, “Some people say that nothing is impossible. Well, I do nothing every day.”
It was Audrey Hepburn who said, “I have to be alone very often. I’d be quite happy if I spent from Saturday night until Monday morning alone in my apartment. That’s how I refuel.”
It was Karl Lagerfeld who said, “People who do a job that claims to be creative have to be alone to recharge their batteries. You can’t live 24 hours a day in the spotlight and remain creative. For people like me, solitude is a victory.”
It was Paulo Cuelho who said, “If you are never alone, you cannot know yourself.”
If we look back a couple of weeks ago, we’ll remember that Jesus returned to his hometown and the people he grew up with were stupefied that “little carpenter boy Jesus” preached and taught, that he healed and cast out demons. No matter what he said, they refused to move past their own past with him. As a result, Jesus made the comment, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” That was a warning, remember, that Jesus made to his disciples that they would be rejected. And with that thrown shade, he sent his disciples out in pairs to preach and teach and heal and lead.
Today, the disciples are returning to Jesus. Like kids coming home from summer camp, Jesus’ friends want nothing more than tell their beloved teacher all about their adventures. And Jesus, hearing the joy and excitement in their voices and longing to know every word, every story, every question, also sees into their weary eyes and says to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” The Teacher knows how grueling ministry can be, knows how much the people can deplete the energy reserves. The Shepherd honors the life, the whole life, of his faithful disciples encouraging them to take rest.
Jesus attempted to draw his beloved disciples away from the crowds and noise and demanding distractions. He knew they needed silence and peace and a few moments of reflection. Very often we see Jesus rising early in the morning to a quiet place to pray. Very often we see Jesus getting into a boat alone and moving to the center of the sea.
Yes, there’s much more that happens in our Gospel passage. But instead of focusing this morning on going and doing and hurrying and rushing that Mark shares with us, I want us to stop — or at least slow down for a moment. I’d like for us to take a pause, a moment of refreshment as we sit in the presence of God the Holy Spirit.
Bethany Hiser wrote in From Burnout to Beloved, “God loves us not for what we do or don’t do. We can’t do anything to make God love us more or less…Living out of our belovedness involves learning to receive love and to extend care to ourselves. We’re invited to know ourselves, our motivations for our work, our desires, and the ways our unmet needs play out in how we engage the world.” We need moments of time when we disconnect. When we unplug. When we give our emotional and mental dynamos a reboot. And we do so to learn more about our own natures, to gain perspective, to question, to absorb.
It was Charles Bukowski who said, “As long as there are human beings about, there is never going to be any peace for any individual upon this earth (or anywhere else they might escape to). All you can do is maybe grab ten lucky minutes here or maybe an hour there. Something is working toward you right now, and I mean you and nobody but you.
The speed limit for Indian Nation Turnpike is 80mph. We expect our wifi connection to be immediate — I daresay to hear the old AOL connection sound today would be a trauma trigger. We are bombarded with stimuli. How many times do our cell phones ding or vibrate alerting us to email, texts, Messenger, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter alerts, and all the other app platform notifications? We expect our Wal-Mart pickup order to go through, not have substitutions, and waiting in the pickup cue for more than 10 minutes is maddening!
If we are to live like Jesus, then we not only need to hear what he says, but we also need to watch what he does. For a period of time, he draws away. He separates. He takes a holy pause.
Philosopher, sociologist, professor Parker Palmer said this: “Self-care is never a selfish act — it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give the care it requires, we do it not only for ourselves, but for the many others whose lives we touch.” Listen to that again, “…it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have…”
For each of us, self care could look differently. Perhaps it is spending time baking or cleaning out a closet. Maybe it’s getting a much-needed massage. Reading a book. Engaging with a therapist. Meditation. Taking a drive. Working on a jigsaw puzzle. Walking around the neighborhood. Participating in yoga. Taking a nap. And perhaps we might not yet know what fulfills self care yet. I would heartily encourage you to explore what it might be that would offer a respite from the world. Explore what your pause would be. And put that pause on repeat as often as possible.