Where is our deserted place in this plugged-in world?

Gospel Mark 6:30-46

30The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. 31He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves.

Where can we find a deserted place?  I can go into my home but I am with my family, can be interrupted by the phone, the cell phone, Face Book messages, emails, the television, my kids needing to be driven places…

When the kids were a lot younger we used to go to our family camp for a week or two in the summer.  This was not a fancy cottage.  The floor was wood boards, there was a small stove, fridge, and microwave and a wood stove.  We had power and running water, but no phone connection.  For those two weeks it was as if we had disappeared from the world (we still took drives to the village for supplies) and it was awesome! We made simple meals that did not come from the freezer because it was too small.  After each meal we had to do the dishes.  The kids grew and soon they were helping with the dishes.  After supper each night we set up a game on the one table and played, and laughed, and argued some.  There was only really one room that was separate which was where we slept so after we put the kids to bed we had to be quiet.  My husband and I would read or play a quiet game of cribbage.

As the years went along the camp saw some changes and there was a phone line, and internet services and the experience changed.  The final change, prior to my parents selling the camp, was the invasion of a little television and VCR.  We still cooked and did dishes and even played the evening games, but we played for shorter times, and the camp was rarely truly quiet!  Even though these changes took place I still grieved when the camp was sold, and still do sometimes.

I want you to note that as well as looking for a deserted place, Jesus did not say find a deserted place and then I will lead you in devotions, team building exercises, or professional development!  He said simply to rest.  How often do we do this?  I don’t know about you, but if I am sitting and not doing something I get very uncomfortable.  I even find things to do while I watch TV!  In a society which places such high value on productivity it almost seems sinful to just rest!  A few years ago I spent a week in Cancun with my sister at the start of the summer.  Between us we took several pounds worth of books, some just light reads and some deep and philosophical.  It was our intention to sit under a palm tree, in a hammock, and read for the whole week.  We ended up doing some shopping and a little touring but most of the time we were at the resort we sat in companionable silence reading either on our deck, by the pool, on the small beach, it was heavenly!  We did not have to concern ourselves with schedules, neither of us took our computers and our cell phones didn’t work there.

I obviously can’t take off to Cancun at the drop of the hat, so I need to find a deserted place here.  I think that this has become an act of will.  In order to find deserted places we have to commit to unplugging ourselves.  My house can be deserted if I make the decision to make no plans, turn off my phone, cell phone, laptop, and TV.  If I am not able to convince my family to join me it may be a little harder to resist, but I can make it clear to them that I am not available for phone calls or other disruptions.

We need to take some time from our coming and going, take the time to eat and rest.  We will be refreshed after and better able to meet those demands we were reluctant to set aside.

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