When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself (Mt 14:13).
This is not the first nor the last time that Jesus withdrew to a deserted place. Unfortunately, his effort for some alone time ended abruptly, for when he got off the boat he was immediately met by people seeking him.
Making time for quiet may seem like a waste of time, just a simple act, but it is one that is very necessary. As busy a Jesus was, Jesus would make time to pray. Though the “deserted place” was full of people by the time his boat reached the shore, he did have some quiet, alone time on the boat before he disembarked. Jesus showed no frustration for having his plans interrupted, in fact, his “heart was moved with pity for them” (Mt 13:14).
Often we lose our patience when we are interrupted. When we are cut off or cut short by someone else we may react in a negative way internally or externally. Most of the times our hearts are not moved with pity nor do we show compassion for those who may consciously or unconsciously come to us in need.
If we find that we are constantly impatient, short with others, one reason could be that we do not give ourselves time to stop and be still, we do not make time to pray, we do not sit for a few moments and breath. We just keep moving ahead, on the phone, on our apps, on the computer, working, studying, interacting with others, completing this activity believing that once we finish we will be all caught up. Hyped up on caffeine to keep up the pace we have set, we then wonder why we are consistently anxious or on edge, if we are even aware!
Jesus sought some downtime to process the death of John the Baptist, and in today’s Gospel, we read that he did not get the amount of time he set out to have, yet he did get a brief respite on the boat before he reached the shore. When he saw the people he did not whisper to himself, “Oh no, here they come again.” He instead was moved in his heart with compassion to serve their needs.
We need to follow the lead of Jesus today and each day to create some time to withdraw and be still. I recall a period of about a week during the first year after I graduated from college. I was working for the National Audubon Society and lived on a 680-acre sanctuary in northwest Connecticut. It was summer and each night as the sun began to set, I would take out my Bible, read a few passages and then just sit quietly and meditate on what I had read. As the natural light ended, I went to sleep with the sun.
The peacefulness and calm I felt for that week period of time, I can still remember vividly some thirty years later. Jesus invites us to make time to be still and pray daily. The time that we commit to need not be a long period, five to ten minutes a day can work wonders, but we must be consistent. Making some time to withdraw today and each day this week to be still, to meditate, and pray will make a difference. Also with this regular practice, we may be more aware of, open and compassionate toward those in need.