The imperative of rest
It’s our last weekend with Mark’s gospel for a time… and two things really come out at us from this Gospel are firstly the Messianic secret- Jesus tells others to keep quiet about who he is. Ironically the evil spirits recognise him immediately far more than his followers.
The second strong theme from Mark is the need for rest and how hard it is to get some. In this Mid-July Sunday, one month before the World Meeting of Families..truly a reality we can all agree with. It’s always been that way. We see Jesus went away to pray and people hunt him out, he fell asleep in a boat but was disturbed by the disciples and the storm. When he goes into a house for a meal, people crowd around. Now he tries to get his disciples to “come away” and “rest”- but no doing. That’s not how it turned out. We’ve all been there in families.
It’s hard to take a break. There is always someone or something that needs attention. It’s not that it’s worse than before, but people do have more ways to get in touch with us and less hesitation to do so at all hours of the day or night. We have 24 hours news and Social Media never goes to sleep. Screen time is growing more and more. The world is ever with us. I’ve known some families to try to control things, no phones at meals or in bedrooms, charging point only in the kitchen and certainly not as alarm clocks. It’s too easy with technology to let it creep into the bedroom and to let the world back in if we can’t sleep or find it desperately lonely. The need for rest is a medical reality. Sleep poverty is a huge problem. Sports people will tell you that the body needs time to rest and rebuild- it’s as important as workouts.
A little poem that I like called “Late Fragment” was written in such a clear space- the space (sadly) that illness can give. Raymond Carver knew his life was turned around by his marriage to Tess Gallagher and he knew how lucky he was. He wrote this tiny text knowing he was dying of cancer. It is a tiny text that holds great depth; for a ‘fragment’, it feels remarkably complete. It always, still, catches at my heart.
And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth
-May such awareness come to us- if we but rest.