Scripture Mark 1: 29-39 Jan Savory
Super busy or bored with nothing to do?
There seem to be 2 standard answers these days to the question “What have you been doing recently?” Either Super busy or bored.
One is “I’ve been super busy”. I get that. My grandson has 2 children, 10 and 6, both at home and learning online, since schools are closed; he works in an “essential” industry and can only sometimes work at home. His wife teaches grade 1 online. They are longing for a time to relax and just “be” instead of always doing.
Nothing to do
The other answer is “nothing much. I’m staying home, It’s boring.” I get that, too; even though I’m busy working at home, I live alone. And I’m still fed up with lockdowns that keep me from friends and family. I really feel for those who live alone and have no work to keep them busy, and no family checking in by phone or FaceTime regularly. There is just so long that we can entertain ourselves with Netflix, books and jigsaw puzzles.
I sympathize with both ends of the spectrum. Of course, these extremes exist even without a pandemic, and everyone is always somewhere on the spectrum between super busy and bored with nothing to do. But recent events have just moved many of us closer to one end or the other.
Super Busy Jesus
As I read today’s gospel, I thought about how Jesus would have answered this question. Super busy?
At this point his ministry had just begun. The first recorded hours of Jesus’ ministry are a whirlwind of activity. In just 29 verses, before today’s reading, Mark tells us that Jesus has
- been baptised by John the Baptist
- gone into the wilderness to figure out how to live out his calling
- travelled from the Jordon to Galilee
- started preaching
- called four fishermen as disciples
- preached in the synagogue (and amazed his hearers with his new authority)
- cast out an unclean spirit
Now in another 11 verses, we’ve just heard that he
- healed Simon Peter’s mother-in-law
- cured many who were sick with various diseases
- cast out many demons
And the healings in todays reading, except for Peter’s mother-in-law, all occurred after Sunset, when the Sabbath was over. It must have been a late night for Jesus and his followers. I’d call that Super Busy. I’d want to crawl into bed and sleep till lunch time the next day!!
But not Jesus. “In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.”
Like Jesus, we all need to balance busy times with times to reconnect with the reality of our lives. Most of us hearing me today would call that reality God.
If you’re Super Busy
To this of us who are super busy, I say: Be like Jesus. Make time to reconnect with God in whatever way is meaningful to us. Whether it’s with traditional verbal prayer, silent meditation, enjoying the beauties of God’s creation during a walk outside, creating or appreciating uplifting music, great art or poetry. Done with intent, these are all forms of prayer. And we owe it to ourselves to recharge our batteries to be able to continue to give of our best. Just like Jesus. This is the traditional way I’ve heard this part of the text preached. Make time for God.
If you’re not busy but bored
But what of those of us who aren’t busy? We’ve tidied all our drawers and cupboards, the freezer is full of pre-cooked meals, all the fix-it jobs are done, we’ve watched all the movies and read all the books on our “to do later” list. Even after calling those whom we care about and doing daily chores, we have run out of ways to keep busy. We have plenty of time to pray in whatever form reconnects us to reality, to God.
Our challenge is finding ways to balance this with meaningful ways to keep busy. And still follow the rules for limiting Covid spread. Just a few ideas. Some friends are knitting hats for preemies, another (in long term care) crochets blankets and gives them to the hospital. My neighbour shops for shut-ins who can’t cope with online ordering. Ask yourself: What can I do for the super busy ones to ease their load? Offer to Zoom with their kids to help with homework; leave dinner on their doorstep; shovel the driveway … use your skills and abilities to help them.
Busyness and Recharging
We all need balance in our lives. It may be daily, or it may cover longer periods. It will change over time and with circumstances. Richard Rohr, the Franciscan priest who founded the Centre for Action and Contemplation has often been asked: Which is more important Action or Contemplation? He always answers than the most important word in the name of the Centre is and.
- Work and prayer
- Action and contemplation
- Busyness and recharging
Super busy or bored?
However you name these, and whether you think of them as activities or states of being, we need both. We will soon be entering the period of Lent, a season of reflection and preparation before Easter, a time to renew and deepen our commitment to our baptismal life. Instead of giving up something for Lent (I don’t recall reading in the Bible that Jesus said don’t eat chocolate) what if we all took on something, maybe daily, maybe weekly: For the busy, to devote more time to prayer (in the widest sense) andfor the not-so-busy, to keep busy in a way that helps others. After all Jesus did tell us to love God and love our neighbours, and we’d be following his example.
Who knows, it might even last beyond Lent and Covid. Amen