In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. ~ Mark 1:35
Gulls on the beach spend a lot of time doing, well, nothing. They are so good at resting that they can do it sitting down or standing up, even standing on one foot. They can rest on land, water, even ice. But give them a reason to move, like a fishing boat coming into the harbor and they immediately leap into action. When the work of looking for food ends, they just as quickly settle back into the serious work of resting.
Most animals know how to maximize rest, something they do out of necessity. Not many creatures have easy access to food, so they have to exert a lot of energy to get it. So when they can, they slow down and recharge. Birders know that the optimal time to locate birds is typically the morning because that is when they are most active. Likewise, during the heat of the middle of the day, finding birds is often more challenging because, you guessed it, they are resting.
When we humans act as if we can deny the importance of natural cycles we pay the price. Something as simple as attempting to force our sleep into prescribed time allotments instead of sleeping when we are tired and waking naturally creates all sorts of health issues for so many of us. Many of us are very bad at resting, not only sleeping but just taking appropriate breaks and doing what nurtures both body and soul. How often, when life serves up chaos, do you respond by putting your head down get busy?
Jesus set a different example. In the midst of the frenetic demands on him, he simply slips away and prays. Obviously he didn’t announce it, since the disciples have to go looking for him, he simply does what needs doing. And when they do find him, he is prepared and focused on doing what needs doing, which is to go and spread the message of good news. His model of caring for others balanced with self-care looks a lot like the wisdom of a beach full of gulls.
Prayer: Great Sabbath-Keeper, keep us focused on what needs doing, especially when that need is rest. Amen.