35 In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. 36 And Simon and his companions hunted for him. 37 When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” 38 He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.” 39 And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.
Years ago Nickelodeon would play a block of programming they called “SNICK” on Saturday nights, it consisted of cartoons and a few live action shows that my daughter really loved…and the Big Orange Couch was used as it’s opening, it was an invitation to just chill-out for a while, at the end of a busy Saturday!
Our Saturdays were busy, usually starting before dawn when my daughter would come into my room and wake me up. We would start playing right away, even before the sun came up…in her room with her stuffed animals and Barbies, then after I had some coffee and she had some breakfast the playing would swing into full gear! If it was nice out we’d go outside for a picnic or to play in the big yard next to our apartment, or explore the neighborhood. If it was not so nice, we’d play games and make up stories with her toys in her room, the living room, my room, etc…and it would go on for hours and hours!
Sometimes we’d do some cleaning (if it could not be avoided), go to the store, visit friends, or take a trip to the park or a farm where we could pet the animals (or watch a cow give birth) and then get ice-cream (AFTER washing our hands); but not matter what we did by the time the evening on, we were both pretty exhausted, and that big orange couch was looking really good to me!
I’d park her in front of the TV and I’d finally have some time to just rest. Sometimes I would just crash out on in my big blue easy chair (or on the floor in front of it…so I could be closer to my daughter) and just veg-out, at other times I would go in another room and surf the web, take care of a few tasks that I needed to handle, or maybe even catch up on some reading.
No matter what I did however, it would not take long before my peace was interrupted…my daughter would get bored with SNICK and come looking for me to play some more with her toys, go on another alien hunt, or just play the coloring game (where we would see who could color best). Of course I would be a little annoyed with being disturbed just when I was getting to chill, but I was never THAT upset…I did enjoy playing with her, it helped me feel like a kid again myself!
I think it is safe to assume that many of us have had these same experiences during our time as single parents…and perhaps it is here that we can find ourselves identifying with today’s Gospel: here Jesus was just trying to get some me-time, when he gets interrupted by his disciples…just as he is finding some peace for himself. Yet instead of being annoyed, he gets up and gets back in the game, continuing on his mission of make the love of God a reality in the world!
We can understand this, for as Jesus often put aside our own wants for the sake of his ministry…for us, we too have made sacrifices for the sake of our children; not only because it was the right thing to do, but also because of love!
This is not to say that it is wrong to want some me-time, as being a single parent (or any parent) can be stressful…not to mention just the stress of meeting life on life’s terms: i.e. work, relationships, bills, etc. In order to handle all these stresses, it is important to recharge, refresh and renew…as well as reconnecting with our faith!
We can do these things by just going off on our own for a walk, workout, to read a book, play a video game, pray, meditate, watch TV, or anything else that can give us a break from our worries and responsibilities. Taking a break can be healthy, and help us to be better parents, make better choices and to be better people…and it does not need to take a lot of our time, even just a few moments can help!
As single parents, sometimes a few moments is all we can get!
Even today, as my daughter approaches the age of 21, there are still times when my plans for a little me-time can get changed. Whether I am watching something on Netflix, writing this blog on my laptop, on the phone, or even trying to sleep, I can be interrupted by my daughter with everything from a request to borrow the car, ask me to fix something (or kill a bug), run to the store, or just with a need to talk over something she is struggling with. I can still get annoyed…but not really; it is nice to know that she still needs me, and still wants to make a connection with me!
And I still need her in my life as well…regardless of how busy I am, and the worry and frustration she has led me to, I am grateful to have her as my daughter, and that the bond that we have forged while growing up together has remained strong.
So too it is with God, who has forged a bond of love with us through the ministry of Jesus and his disciples and through the death and resurrection of Christ, God’s ultimate sacrifice of love! Through Christ God’s love is always with us, just as our love is always with our children no matter what may get in its way….and it is in this gift of love, when shared with each other, that we find our greatest comfort in life: the warmth of a life lived together, and in that warmth the grace of God abounds, and here is where we can truly find peace!
Let us Pray:
God, thank you for all those things that keep us busy in our lives: our children, our loved ones, and our passions. Help us to learn how to balance our responsibilities with our need to rest: taking time out to take care of ourselves and to refresh and renew our faith, so that we can be better parents and better followers of Christ. Let us also see the joy that can restore us in connecting with our children and with those we love…sharing our lives with them as we support each other as we trod the stony road of life together…knowing that we are walking in the light of your grace.