“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest. So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place” Mark 6:31-32
Life seems to be racing along at top speed. The home and office are busier than ever. It’s the world of two in one conditioner and shampoo. The world of pizza delivery in twenty minutes or less. A world in which we act as if everything comes to those who hustle while they wait. A world in which we buy time saving gadgets but don’t have the time or patience to read the instructions and figure out how to use them. A world of the five minutes ab. exerciser. A world in which we’ve worked out 101 things to do at the traffic lights (My wife says she’ll one day publish a book entitled One Hundred and One Things to do at the Traffic Lights). A world where we expect microwave maturity. And a world in which we arrive at the checkout lines of the grocery store, count how many people are in each line, assess the number of items per shopping cart, and work out which checkout will be the quickest. It’s the world of the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland: “Now here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least as fast as that!”
Then Jesus comes on the scene. He reminds us that we can’t go faster than the One who’s leading. He says, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest. So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place” Mark 6:31-32.
Taking Him at His Word I often go on canoe trips. I highly recommend one. You’ll be eaten alive by mosquitoes and black flies. You’ll stagger across portages under intolerable burdens. You’ll paddle until your muscles burn. You’ll live cheek by jowl with people who spend most of their time talking about how to go to the washroom when there’s no washroom to go to. You’ll eat food flavoured with a potpourri of twigs and unknown entities that you don’t want to know or ask about. Your clothes will smell of wood smoke, bug spray, sun-block, grease and sweat. And when you get to the end of a long tiring day on the open water you’ll have a fitful night’s sleep on a bed of rocks.
I’m not kidding. Everyone should go on a canoe trip. I try and do at least one or more a year. For a canoe trip brings life back into perspective. It reminds me that service must be followed by solitude. It reminds me of the many things I often take for granted. It helps me get rid of the stuff that props me up. It helps me sample the divine whisper. It reveals how we exchange depth for breadth. It enables me to travel down the waterway less travelled. It clears away the clutter of busyness. It removes the distractions of technology and material possessions. It addresses my problem with “hurry sickness.” It enables me to practice the art of slowing down. And it helps me to stop skimming life and start living it.
Yes, I highly recommend that everyone go on a canoe trip. You’ll see the stars like you’ve never seen them before. You’ll thrill to the sound of the loon across the lake. You’ll be captivated by the beauty of a water lily. You’ll taste the smell of rain on parched earth. You’ll marvel at the hues of a sunset. You’ll wonder how cypress trees manage to grow in cracks in the rocks. You’ll laugh at the mating dance of the dragonflies. You’ll be enticed to swim in cool waters. You’ll be silenced by the cry of a wolf. You’ll be thankful for the warmth of the sun. You’ll see people through softer eyes. You’ll remember the One who gives you strength to press on. And you’ll discover afresh how to give thanks to the God whose love endures forever.