LET GO OFF YOUR STRESS!
This Sunday, we hear in Mark’s Gospel that Jesus met with his apostles and heard about all the work they had been doing. Jesus recognised that they had been working long hours without any break, they were tired from the busyness of the demands being placed on them; they didn’t even have time to sit and eat. He says to them “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while”.
This invitation is extended to all of us; we too are in need of rest. We need to be able to leave aside the busyness of our lives and rest a while. We live in an ‘always on’ society – our mobile phones and communications tools like Facebook and Twitter mean that we are in contact and contactable at all times. This has its benefits; however the other side of it is that it can be difficult to switch off from the busyness of life when we are constantly available to others.
The invitation that Jesus is giving us, is to come away to a deserted place; this is not a desolate place but one without the busyness – one without the distractions, the phone calls, and the meetings. We have all had the experience of rushing from one commitment to another, of trying to squeeze as much as possible into one day. We are invited to look at where we can take time in our busy lives to be nourished; to have some spiritual rest; to take time to pray, to sit and just be with Jesus, without feeling the need to constantly do.
In Mark’s Gospel we hear that the people saw Jesus and the apostles leaving in the boat and followed them on foot to arrive before them; we hear that Jesus was moved by the needs of the people and he responded to them compassionately. Jesus recognised that the apostles needed to rest before they could face the needy crowds. There is a clear message that self-care is important to God’s good news; taking time out to rest helps us to reach out and respond compassionately to people’s needs.
So where is our rest? Where is our deserted place? We all know how overwhelming it can be at times to have to meet the demands of our family, our friends, our work colleagues, our communities. We all know the feeling of being stressed and under time pressure. Stress is a normal part of life; it is the natural way our being has evolved to deal with stimuli and different situations. We develop skills in juggling to balance all our commitments. To be able to continue to do this effectively we need to be able to manage the stresses in our lives.
There is a story told of a psychologist who was teaching a group about stress management. As she walked around a room she raised a glass of water; everyone expected they’d be asked the ‘is the glass half empty or half full’ question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired: ‘How heavy is this glass of water?’
Answers called out ranged from 20g to 500g.
She replied: ‘The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralysed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.’
She continued: ‘The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralysed – incapable of doing anything.’
It’s important to remember to let go of your stresses. Remember to put the glass down!
Jesus’s message today is; ‘come and sit with me and rest for a while’; we can put our glass down and let Jesus hold it for us. That is his promise to us.
By Rosemary O’Connor and Patrick Sullivan Limerick, Ireland