"What I want is to leap out of this personality…..And then sit apart from that leaping-I’ve lived too long where I can be reached." Rumi, Sufi mystic, 1207-1273
I was laboring under the assumption that the ability to "be reached" is really an experience of 21st century humans. Then I read these words of Rumi who lived in a time before cellphones, computers, blackberries, email…..all the ways we can now be instantly and constantly reached. Of course all of these allow us to do important work with an efficiency we never imagined. They allow us to connect with family and friends in places and at times that before would have been impossible. All this is good.
But there are also those times when we need to disconnect….to pull away…to find silence, solitude and rest. We have fewer and fewer models for such practice in our daily life. Yet one of the gifts of observing the seasons of the church year-Advent,Epiphany,Lent,Pentecost,Ordinary Time-is that the season of Lent asks us to do just that…..pull away and go to a place of introspection. These 40 days before Easter invite us to echo Jesus’ walk in the wilderness..to go where we can’t be reached.
Realistically there is much of the time when this is impossible. But it is important, I believe, to have a least a few minutes if not longer of every day where we can "leap out of our personality" and not be reached. It is so easy for me to say I’ll do this when I get all the work done. But I have learned that that time never arrives. There will always be work to do. There are always more things on my list to be accomplished than time.
In Jesus’ time in the wilderness, in his healing, in his caring for the sick and the poor, he obeyed a deeper rhythm. We will hear these scripture stories over the next few weeks. In the midst of important work, he would take time to pull away, to pray, and to not be reached. One translation of the word for "pray" is "to come to rest". Jesus rhythm of work and living can be a model for us in these days of the season of Lent.
In Wayne Muller’s book Sabbath, another book I return to often, he writes: "God does not want us to be exhausted. God wants us to be happy." So if it is permission you are seeking, here goes. Take 15 minutes today. Turn off your computer, your cellphone, close the door and "come to rest." If it was good enough for Jesus, it certainly should be good enough for us. Who knows? It could become your daily practice.