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from fathers desk

My Dear Spiritual Family,

In our Gospel today, Jesus invites the twelve apostles: “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while,” (Mk 6:31). They had just returned from their first mission. Last week, Jesus sent them out two-by-two to proclaim repentance. For a full sense of the sequence, first pray over Mark’s Gospel 6:7-13 and then move to 6:30-34. In other words, begin with  last week’s  Gospel and then skip to  this week’s.

An ebb and flow exists between work and rest. Constant work leads to burn out; continual rest can lead to restlessness and depression. We have names for those on the extremes: work-a-holics and couch potatoes. During the pandemic many struggled to adjust to a new work-life balance based on new expectations. More time at home led people to recognize what they had been missing, some space to reflect on true priorities. A contingent of the workforce decided to change their form of employment. Some folks are calling it “The Great Resignation” as employers struggle to fill open positions by seeking to attract talent in new ways.

In the early months of the pandemic, my dining room table became another desk, so that I was surrounded constantly by my pastoral duties. Resolving to clean up my “work space” helped to create more mental space so that I could step away. We all need that, and Jesus invites the brothers to come away to a deserted place for rest.

We are in vacation season and many of our families will be seeking some down time before Labor Day. Last week found me away in Ohio visiting my brother and his family. With five kids and three dogs in the house, it was far from a deserted place, but we managed to find some rest and spend a lot of quality time together. The scenario reminds me of the work needed to bring a family away on vacation. Perhaps after a big family getaway, parents may be seeking a deserted place and some time away to rest (by themselves). One question for reflection: “What are the deserted places in my life, the spaces where I can truly find rest?”

Deserted places do not have to be exotic or far away. They need not be hard to get to or even permanent. A walk around the block, a quiet drive, a visit to church, a cup of tea in a favorite chair -- all of these could be deserted places where we find space to be with Jesus. However, the very same spaces and others could also be where the noise of our lives breaks in. We need to set delimiters; we need to carve out that space in our lives to meet the Lord.

Remember the book, I Heard God Laugh, by Matthew Kelly? He calls for 15 minutes of daily prayer, ideally at the same time everyday. Or consider Pope Francis’ repeated call to spend 15 minutes with the Gospel every day. That quarter of an hour is just the beginning. We can work up to thirty and then 60 minutes. Bishop Fulton Sheen advised this: everyone needs to pray for 30 minutes a day, and for those who are busy, 60 minutes is required. In other words, the busier we are the greater the time required for prayer. During these days of summer, I hope we both find more time for the Lord in the deserted places of our lives.

God bless you!
Fr. Wilson