July 2024

‘Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while’ Mark 6:31 (RSV)

As I read these words I let out a deep sigh. A sigh of remembrance of some of the quiet retreat times I have enjoyed simply being with God. One of longing for more quiet times in which to simply ‘be myself’, knowing that Jesus is with me by the Spirit. There is a yearning in the human heart to be free to simply ‘be’, unencumbered by the demands of the world. Jesus knew this well enough; we often read of him taking himself into the countryside in the early morning to simply be with his Father alone.

This invitation to: ‘Come away to a quiet (or lonely) place and rest’ is given by Jesus to his disciples after a period of intense activity and challenging ministry. The Twelve have been sent out in pairs to live by faith and to teach, heal and cast out demons. They must have been anxious about the prospect of going, but they return rejoicing at the fruit of their ministry. Yet they are also shattered and need time to rest and to process and reflect on their experience. They need to get away from the crowds and the busyness. John the Baptist has just been killed and Jesus needs time and space to grieve for his cousin.

God has given us the gift and commandment of the Sabbath. Yet how often do we truly, intentionally, take a Sabbath day of rest to be ourselves with our God and enjoy the beauty of the earth and all that he has given us? Do we really take time away from the stresses of the ‘normal’ days of the rest of the week?

In our modern world it can be so hard to be truly still and be away from the distractions and demands made on our attention. Yet we need not only to find a quiet place to be, we need the will not to be drawn back into the world of emails, social media, phones, computers, televisions and radios. We need to find not only the physical space, but the headspace to be away from domestic distractions and simply ‘be’.

To this quiet place, Jesus calls us this month and always to come away with him. There our Father waits for us in love.