Away. There is something really great about getting away. It isn’t just taking a break, but also finding some perspective, or finding a way to do life with more vigor, more grace. The away time not only refreshes but provides perspective on what is working, what isn’t and what way might bring more life. Dave and I have just returned from two weeks in Northern Michigan where we bicycled past orchards loaded with yellow cherries, bright red apples. Along the bike trail we studied the difference between a grape vine and a hops vine and we tasted the nuances of each! But beyond the obvious, I noticed that there are hundreds of monarch butterflies on a bike trail, that Lake Michigan has moods ranging from dark angry waves to aquamarine gentle satin. From a distance, I began to see life more clearly than I have in a long time.
The rhythms of life that allow us to get away and wake up to the holy sometimes seem ripped apart by the demands of life. Where can you go where a beep from some device will not ricochet your mind back to some task? But the pressure to stay engaged rather than step away is not new. Sometimes the harder beep to avoid is the one inside our own souls, beckoning us to not dare step away. A preacher from around 1900, Hannah Whitall Smith prayed:
And Lord, I am going to trust thee to keep me. I have tried keeping myself, and have failed, and failed, most grievously. I am absolutely helpless. So now I will trust thee. I give myself to thee. I keep back no reserves. Body, soul, and spirit, I present myself to thee as a piece of clay, to be fashioned into anything thy love and thy wisdom shall choose.”
Stepping away is one way we express our trust in God who shows us a more excellent way. When I step foot into our sanctuary or chapel, it still takes my breath away. And for a moment, I know, that God’s got this. The God who breathed divine life into each of us can fashion us into anything. The world says “do more” but God begs to differ. God whispers, “Come away to a deserted place and I will give you rest.” Maybe that’s the reason the Bible says that Jesus is “the way,” because when we step away, we find God’s way.