Attention to the secular and/or non-Christians among us: This post starts with some Jesus-stuff and even quotes the Bible. However, the message goes beyond that, so I encourage you to stick with us on this one.
I had the pleasure of attending a Church Mission night last week, and it was truly inspiring in many ways. A particular highlight was the reading of the Gospel and our priest’s personal take on its meaning in his life.
It turns out that Jesus not only gave us examples of how to be a united community and to love our families. He also showed us why we all need some alone time to truly serve our spouses, our children and our community in the best way possible.
And when he had taken leave of them, he went off to the mountain to pray.
When it was evening, the boat was far out on the sea and he was alone on shore.
Then he saw that they were tossed about while rowing, for the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them walking on the sea.
Mark 6:46-48 NAB
If you know much about the Bible, you’ve probably heard of the two miracles that happen just before and within this passage. Jesus is resting alone on the mountain after He fed around 5,000 people with fives loaves of bread and two fish. And as the last line mentions, He shows off His walking on water trick to His disciples after He sees them struggling in a storm out in the sea. It was a big day for Jesus!
I have heard this reading several times in the past, but I never really paid any attention to what Jesus was doing in between His two miracles that day. It turns out that He told His disciples to go out to sea for a while, and He spent time alone resting and praying up on a nearby mountain. It was only after He got this “me time” that He came down to the shoreline and returned His focus to the disciples.
Our priest did a wonderful job of putting this Gospel into a context that I could really relate to. He talked about the reasons he has become an avid hiker and spends much of his time away from the Church taking hikes. He expressed the refreshment and sense of peace he feels when he completes a solo hike. He said he prays throughout the day, but his favorite time for prayer is atop a mountaintop (or a large hill as we have here in southern Illinois).
But here is the real power behind this Gospel: his alone time changes his focus. When he doesn’t get any alone time to hike and relax, he can feel overwhelmed and become self-centered with thoughts of all that he sacrifices dominating his mind. However, after a good hike, he returns to our parish with a renewed enthusiasm and a keen focus on those that he serves.
I can totally relate to this. We all need some time to “recharge” our minds and bodies. More than that, we need time to refocus through prayer, meditation or simply relaxation. With the busyness of life, I need time to hear my own thoughts, sit for ideas and allow God to remind me of my true priorities.
Fortunately, I had the opportunity so spend some quiet time in reflection during my favorite time of the year over the holidays. I entered the New Year with a renewed enthusiasm for all areas of my life as well as a commitment to improve my actions to better reflect my priorities. You may have noticed the contemplative nature of some of the posts around this time, such as “Do You Practice What You Preach?”
I recognize now that I really need this alone time in smaller, more frequent doses. Right now, I get it through morning workouts and late-night writings here at Engaged Marriage. In the spring and summer, I will be recharged while cycling our area bike trails and the fall will bring another season of bowhunting. Occasionally, my family will join me, but for the most part these will be solo pursuits.
These are not selfish activities. In fact, they are vitally important for the well-being of my marriage and my family. I think Jesus would totally agree.
I’d love to hear from you on this topic. What do you do to refocus on your true priorities in life?Photo by peasap
Dustin Riechmann created Engaged Marriage to help other married couples live a life they love (especially) when they feel too busy to make it happen. He has many passions, including sharing ways to enjoy an awesome marriage in 15 minutes a day, but his heart belongs with his wife Bethany and their three young kids.