I encouraged people I have visited as a chaplain to remember that people are always nearby. I was reflecting on Mark 6 recently for a chapel service. The portion in the "in between," between the feeding of the 5 thousand and Jesus walking on water to meet the disciples. And the miracles were not so much that Jesus multiplied the food or walked on water, but that he took compassion and made the disciples the hands of that compassion. When was the last time you thought of yourself as that?
But in Mark 6, we see that Jesus again wants to retreat to pray….He’s always doing that! In my chaplain positions, often after long visits with people, I find that I need to retreat. Retreat back into my office. This does a few things practically. It allows me to go make notes or chart what happened during the visit. But it also allows me to breath, process my feelings and the experiences I just shared and to recharge spiritually. This is common for people whose personalities are on the introverted side.
And in my reading of the Gospels I read that Jesus does this often too, he goes out to minister, and then comes in to recharge. Goes out, comes back in. He expends himself, then retreats and invites in God. He’s an introvert, I’m telling you.
Often, in my work as a chaplain, i experience the rhythm of christian life and the struggle to come to Jesus genuinely. One of the hardest thing to learn in both seminary and chaplaincy training was learning to actively do rest. To do self care. For if we do not rest or take care of ourselves, we can’t earnestly approach Jesus with our whole selves. Which is the aim of the rhythm of the Christian life. And Jesus will meet us there, we just need to give it a rest.