In a couple of weeks I am going on vacation to canoe up in Canada at Quetico Provincial Park.
I look forward to it every year. So here’s a question for you . . . if you could go anywhere for vacation for one week, where would you go? Imagine that you had no worry about expenses, etc. So now let’s do something different . . . turn to a person next to you and tell them.
Well it doesn’t really matter where you go… all places can be wonderful and/or dreadful. You see some of us can go on a vacation and we try to pack so much into the time. For example thinking: I’ve got to see this, I’ve got to go there, I’ve got to buy that, I’ve got to stay up late, etc. etc. And unfortunately many of us come back from our “vacations” more exhausted than when we left!
But there are also those kinds of vacations where we don’t do much of anything. We just sit back and relax, enjoy and rest. You see there are different kinds of vacations, there are “Martha kind of vacations” and “Mary kind of vacations” (like from the gospel).
Martha kind of vacations have us do lots of rushing and running around, where we eat too much, or we drink too much or spend too much. There’s hustle and bustle. But a Mary kind of vacation stays true to the meaning of the word vacation, which come from vacancy or vacant: that is to be empty, open, and free.
We can even have both kinds during the same week. But for most of we either one doesn’t just happen. We plan it, we set ourselves up. A vacation could be a time to do (or be) as we aren’t the rest of the time.
If you’re a planner, don’t plan; let it flow.
If you’re always in a rush, slow everything down, the way you talk
(Demonstrate), walk, eat.
If you’re hyper and anxious, be deliberately mellow.
If you’re so serious, laugh and be silly.
Of course we can choose to be however we want to be when on vacation, but the amazing aspect is that as Jesus said in the gospel (and Abraham demonstrated in the 1st reading) we are not to be anxious and upset . . . not just when we are away for a week, but during every week.
Another example of this is how we pray. We can choose to be like Mary or Martha. A Martha prayer tries to cram a lot of things in the prayer time. For example feeling a need to go through this “whole set of memorized prayers” or get through this entire reading list. And not that there is anything wrong with that . . . provided it leaves us relaxed and at peace. I mean, we are to finish our prayers NOT being anxious or upset. It’s quite possible to change up our prayers and slow down and focus on bits of the prayer instead of feeling guilty that we haven’t finished the whole set.
For example, it’s OK to prayer the Lord’s Prayer and just meditate on each phrase, even if we don’t finish the prayer. That is, to simple contemplate on the first phrase “Our Father” . . . and what does that mean for us? That is, reflecting on “Our” being a universal presence, not just mine . . . or “Father” being like a Daddy who is helpful and fun. Do you get the idea? The main aspect of prayer is NOT to accomplish a task, but to be moved into greater union with God. And to become less anxious or upset.
So let me have you all experience a time of meditative prayer and of slowing down. I want us to reflect on Psalm 46, verse 10. I will recite a section and you repeat it after me. And I want you to do it with your eyes closed. Let’s say it softly and slowly.
Be still and know that I am God
Be still and know that I am
Be still and know