Lake Erie Sunset

An Invitation to Rest

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This past week, I was on my annual eight-day retreat. It is always wonderful when you make a retreat to get away for a while and to spend time with nature. When Jesus went away, he spent time with nature.

There are usually three places he goes away to: the mountains, the desert (or wilderness), and the sea. We hear this today when he invites his disciples to come away to a deserted place and rest for a while. I want you to think about that for yourself. Go away by yourself to a deserted place and rest for a while. He went away with them in a boat to a deserted place.

I spent part of my retreat on Lake Erie. It was quiet most of the time. One particular day, there was a big party that was going on a couple of doors down from where I was staying. They were having a large boat party. They were having a wonderful time; however, it was a little bit too much for me to sit there and make a holy hour because they were playing loud music, screaming, drinking, and yelling a lot of obscenities.

I wanted to pray in silence. I had a kayak there. I thought if I paddled out, I could get away into silence. I paddled out about a mile or so, which wasn’t enough. I paused to listen – and had to keep just paddling and paddling until I had reached silence. I looked around, and I realized I was so far out. I was completely surrounded by water.

The water on Lake Erie was completely flat. The sun was setting, and the water just looked like a moving oil painting. It was breathtaking and beautiful. I spent time there with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I experienced the Trinity by going out into this deserted place, out into the water and resting for a while. It was an absolutely wonderful experience.

The sunset was breathtaking. As I turned away after the sunset and started paddling back, the clouds behind me were an even bigger show. God was showing off and painting this beautiful image in nature for me.

All of us need this from time-to-time. Maybe you cannot get eight days away, or maybe you cannot even get a day away, but I think it is so important to get away in nature – to go away, by yourself, to a deserted place and rest for a while.

Summer is a wonderful time to do this. So, I just invite you to spend time in this way no matter what you’re doing. Life gets overwhelming for everybody regardless of our circumstances. But, Jesus is giving us this invitation: Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest awhile.

I want you to think about that invitation that Jesus is giving to you to pray, to come away and rest for a while. Where is a place that you can go to that you will be by yourself, that will be deserted and that you can find rest for a while?

I think that would be wonderful for all of us this summer to make sure we take time to do that. The Lord wants so much rest with you.  He knows how hard you have been working. He knows the struggles that are going on in your life, and he gives you this wonderful invitation to come away, by yourself, to a deserted place and rest for a while.

About the Author Fr. Michael Denk

Fr. Michael was ordained into priesthood in the Diocese of Cleveland on May 12, 2007. He is dedicated to helping others encounter Christ through the celebration of the Eucharist, preaching, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, spiritual direction, and prayer.

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I'm Father Michael J. Denk, a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland. I am a contributor of content to The Prodigal Father Productions, Inc., a non-profit corporation functioning in accord with the traditions and the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. The corporation and I are separate, it doesn't speak for me, the parish, or on behalf of the Diocese of Cleveland, and I do not speak for it.