Reflection: July 22

Published on Jul 30th, 2018 by Rev. David Boyd | 0

         Time is an elusive thing. It’s hard to understand time.  I studied a bit of Einstein’s theory of relativity years ago in university and still don’t understand time, only that it is relative because we are all moving in some fashion.  The space-time continuum, a phrase that we heard a lot during the Star Trek: Next Generation series with Jean Luc Picard and crew, refers to a mathematical idea that space and time can be combined into one, a continuum.  Apparently, it’s known, in 4 dimensions, as Minkowski space, and makes it easier for physicists to think of the universe on one level and atoms on another level using the same terms.

Well, I don’t know about you, but I don’t get this detail of physics.  All I know is that as I age, time goes faster—that’s a different theory of relativity.  AND, I don’t have enough time to do all of the things I need and want to do!

And there’s where we can relate to the biblical story told by Mark.  The disciples didn’t even have time, opportunity, a leisurely moment to eat because they kept getting inundated with requests for attention.  Jesus said to them, “Come away by yourselves to someplace more remote, and rest awhile.” For there were many people coming and going, and the apostles hadn’t had time to eat.  (Mark 6:31) They hadn’t had time to eat.

I want to say thanks to Carol and John for pointing out the word time in this context.  It was interesting to think about it, especially in relation to summer time (and the living’s easy), not having enough time to do the things we need and want, and so often losing track of times when we get caught up in a moment of grace.  Time features quite often in biblical stories and in spiritual thinking. The Greek word in question can be translated time or leisure.

I read a book last year, which I mostly finished, written by Dr. Richard Swenson.  Swenson is a physician and medical professor in Florida.  His book is called Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives.  His thesis is that there is a margin between what we can healthfully tolerate in terms of busyness and going flat-out.  His own research has led him to believe that we have moved beyond healthy margins into the red zone and work at capacity for too long; and this leads to spiritual, emotional, mental and physical health problems.  We need to step back, cultivate more leisure and rebuild margins into our lives.

I used to go from meeting to meeting to meeting without the benefit of a break in between.  I learned some of these patterns from my parents, especially my dad, a busy minister in the United Church.  He worked, more or less, 6 days a week.  He would take a month off in the summer and we’d go travelling, but it wasn’t enough.  I don’t mean to be simplistic, but dad, as the product of a dysfunctional family, expressed his dysfunction through being a workaholic.  He constantly worked in the red zone and died prematurely.

There is so much wisdom in Jesus’ teachings to stop, go away and rest—to appreciate leisure and the time we have.  Twice, in my estimation, in the reading from Mark, we hear of Jesus leading his disciples away for rest, to take time, and be rejuvenated.  And twice they are beset.  But the intent is there to rest and be recharged.

Summer is the perfect time to hear these words about time and rest and leisure. And it’s a good time to reprioritize our life for the rest of the year.  Psychologists are now saying what spiritual leaders have said for centuries, and what the church has taught: meditation, yoga, prayer, quiet time and intentional leisure—whatever you want to call it—is good for us.  And I have to say, over the last few years, I’ve tried to practice what I’ve preached.  I try to take time to be holy, as the song goes; well, maybe not holy per se, but I’m trying to build in some healthy margins and not live so much on the edge. And I know that many of us are trying to do this.

And what we’re about this morning is trying to cultivate a moment in time, a time that is more than what we mean today in leisure, but that is part of our taking intentional time away from our busy lives to rest, to recharge, to experience this moment and be renewed.

Among the many challenges Jesus presented, taking time and respecting the time we have as a gift is vitally important to our well being and our ability to be with others.  Compassion is all-encompassing and draws us all in. Compassion is God’s gift of time to be, time to love, and time to live.  Amen.


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