Take Time for Retreat
Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat.
Earlier in Mark 6, Jesus had sent his disciples out two-by-two, having given them authority to engage in the ministry of the kingdom of God (6:7). They did as Jesus had said, calling people to repentance and healing the sick (6:13). Later, they returned to Jesus to report on their mission trip (6:30). Though Mark does not give us the details of this conversation, we do read one thing Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile” (6:31) Jesus said this because “there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat” (6:31).
Have you ever felt like that? Has your life ever been so busy that you hardly had time to eat? Have you found yourself surrounded by opportunities and obligations, such that you didn’t even have time to stop and think, let alone pray? I expect most of us have had that kind of experience, whether in times when our inbox at work was piling up, or when we had young children at home, or, well, you name it. I felt like Jesus and the disciples last month, in fact. I was busy with my work at Laity Lodge, helping to host two fantastic retreats in the Canyon, preaching four sermons in Boston, in addition to my regular duties, such as writing my Daily Reflections and blog posts, working with my colleagues at Foundations for Laity Renewal, and so forth and so on. Then, in the midst of all of this busyness, my wife’s father died. She had to go to California for a week, leaving me with extra duties at home. I went there only for a weekend, where I led the memorial service and helped clean out my father-in-law’s home. It seemed as if I almost didn’t have time to eat!
In times like these, and we all have them, we need to hear Jesus’ words for his disciples as if they were for us personally, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile” (6:31). This is an invitation to retreat, to back off from the demands of ordinary life to have time of solitude, silence, and rest. Now this might sound like I’ve taken a line from Jesus in order to promote the ministry of Laity Lodge, where we do on a regular basis exactly what Jesus described. And, I suppose that is what I’m doing, in a way. I love it when you, our Daily Reflections' readers, come to Laity Lodge, not only because I enjoy meeting you personally, but also because I know how much your souls need times of solitude, silence, and rest. (Oh, and, yes, at Laity Lodge, we do have time to eat, quite wonderfully, I might add!)
But my main point in this reflection is not to entice you to Laity Lodge. Rather, I want us all to pay attention to the wisdom of Jesus. We all need times of retreat, especially when the busyness of life threatens to overwhelm us. In fact, sometimes we need a retreat most desperately in precisely the times when we are the busiest. So let me encourage you to look seriously and prayerfully at your calendar, and set aside time for retreat. It might be a half-day at a local retreat center or a quiet park. It might be a long stroll on the beach. Or it just might be a weekend at Laity Lodge. However you do it, take some time to get away and be with Jesus for a while.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: When is the last time you stepped back from your daily life to retreat? Do you need a retreat now? Why not decide right now to set aside some time to get away and rest with the Lord?
PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, how thankful I am that Mark has recorded for us this scene and your wise words. I’m struck by your sensitivity to your disciples. Though they were surely excited by their recent mission trip and thrilled to share with you what had happened, you sensed that they needed to get away, to be quiet, and to rest.
I expect, Lord, that you would say the same thing to me at times. Sometimes I listen to the whisper of your Spirit calling me to retreat. Sometimes, as you know, I just try to work longer and harder. Then I wonder why I’m exhausted, empty, even depressed.
Help me, Lord, to take regular times of retreat, so that I might be refreshed in body, mind, and spirit. May I learn to retreat with you, Lord. Amen.
P.S. from Mark
If you are interested in coming to a retreat at Laity Lodge, there are retreats throughout the year. Most are open to all people. (A few are limited to members of a particular church.) You can find the Laity Lodge retreat schedule here.
Also, another opportunity for retreat on the Foundations for Laity Renewal property is the Quiet House. This comfortable home is situated on an isolated hill in the woods. It’s perfect for a personal retreat. For more information about the Quiet House, check this page of the website.
Image courtesy of Laity Lodge, one of our sister programs in the Foundations for Laity Renewal.