“…a deserted place”
Jesus both spent time and encouraged those around him to spend time in a “deserted place.” This may create an image of an island or a place in the desert. This may or not be appealing to you. The “where” is not what Jesus modeled and invited others to; it is the “what.” The “what” was to regularly set time to be apart from the frenzy of day to day life.
To “desert” is really about withdrawing, removing or pulling away. Jesus clearly finds value in regularly doing so. It appears to be a time for him to spend focused time in prayer and reflection. It is through this that he gains clarity for that to which he is being called.
I, too, value time daily in a “deserted place”. So much so that when I do not take time it leaves my soul feeling off kilter. I also strongly believe in longer times of retreat and respite. In fact, I believe that we are not called but are created to have a life rhythm which includes times of Sabbath. “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God.”
I find sabbath time to not only be important for individuals but for couples, communities, and systems as well. This was the image we always talked about after a summer season of countless people trampling all over camp: it was due a long sabbatical to rest, recreate and renew for our return in the spring.
My hope and prayer is that you are finding sabbath time, “a deserted place”, this summer. I will be spending a fair bit of time out west at our little ranch this summer on my own sabbath. I have encouraged those communities and committees that I participate in to take some sabbath time this summer – and am pleased to see that most are.
Wherever your deserted place is, however you can find sabbatical time, please do. We are both created and called to do so.