I went for a walk. Not uncommon, nor in my case unusual. In fact I find that a nice walk does a world of good. It relaxes me and helps me decompress. It’s something about exercise and fresh air I’m sure. So, I went for a walk. I was feeling a little pent up, being in the same place quite a bit of the time with classes and what not. I had a vague destination in mind, but nothing in particular. I walked through the streets of Jerusalem, and I made some meandering turns here and there. However, I came to find that this walk was not helping me relax at all. There is a difference between walking in a familiar location and a foreign city. You can’t really just walk. You have to keep your bearings and try to not get lost. In the end, I returned to our residence a little physically tired, but not relaxed at all.
Then I started to try and figure out other ways of letting off some steam. As I ran through all my usual hobbies and distractions, I quickly realized two things. First, none of my usual hobbies were available to me. Play on my guitar? Nope, it’s in Chicago. Watch a movie? No theater close that I know of. Go for a walk? Well we saw how that worked out. When I left on pilgrimage, I left behind the things that I used to recharge my batteries.
Then I realized that there was one thing that I had not thought of. Among the many ways that I had developed to top of my personal fuel tank, prayer had not been first on the list. It hadn’t even made it into the top ten. Only because I was on pilgrimage, because God had placed me beyond these normal things I used, did I even think of it.
“That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons . . . [a]nd he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons . . . [a]nd in the morning, a great while before day, he rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed.” Mark 1:32-35
Jesus knew what he had to do to rest; he had to stay close to his Father. He was surely exhausted by the energy it took to minister to so many in need. So he went off by himself and prayed. Prayer is not an important part of our daily lives. It is the most important part. We turn to so many different things, good things, to try and give us energy: family, hobbies, exercise, food, sex, material possessions, etc. In and of themselves, none of these are bad. However, when we place them at the center of our lives, when they become the things we turn to in order to make us feel better, we have lost our bearings. All these things are goods that God has created for us, but as created things they are finite. They disappear and run out. In prayer, be it personal prayer, meditating on scripture, the liturgy, or especially the sacraments, we turn to the source of life itself and receive our rest from Him. Only God can be the fount of life giving refreshment that will sustain us forever.