Last week when I had a day where I felt like things were falling apart, from forgetting my mask and having to go back home, to feeling like I was always getting to emails later than I should, to just feeling discombobulated. When I got home my kids were also having a day; that evening had lots of fighting filling our walls. Bedtime didn’t go as smoothly as I would have wanted, and when they were all finally in bed. I went to retreat to my room and I heard, “Mom! Mom!” With the call to come back in a room, I was filled with a deep sigh and I thought, “I have nothing left to give.” I went into my daughter’s room. “Mom, I forgot to do something.” She proceeded to take her little finger and make the sign of the cross on my forehead and say “You are a child of God and God loves you always and forever, no matter what.”
“He [Jesus] said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves.”
Before this scripture in Mark, the disciples had been sent out two by two and the work was clearly exhausting. I am confident that many of us have had days that have been so intense that even finding time to eat can be a challenge. We are only a week and a half into classes and many of us might already be wondering how we are going to make it to November 24th with no breaks.
The thing is that after the disciples and Jesus set off for this deserted place, others saw them and took off on foot and arrived ahead of them. Jesus has compassion for them and begins to teach them there. The disciples want to send all the people away so the people can go into the villages and get food. And Jesus says, “You give them something to eat.” If I were a disciple I can think of a few choice words that would be going through my mind. And at the heart of my thoughts would be “I HAVE NOTHING LEFT TO GIVE.” Remember, these disciples haven’t even had time to eat and somehow they are supposed to feed thousands of people. The disciples respond by saying, “You expect us to go spend all kinds of money we don’t have to buy food for all these people?!” Jesus then responds for them to go and see how much food they do have. They come up with five loaves of bread and two fish. The people gathered in groups of 50 and a hundred and Jesus took the food, blessed it, and everyone was able to eat — and then there were 12 baskets of scraps left over.
This is the grace I am finding I need myself as we begin this semester. There have already been times where I didn’t feel like I have what I need to be successful and times where I am longing for a deserted place. I think many of us feel like we have NOTHING LEFT TO GIVE. My prayer for this community is that we will be able to trust that it is not about us each individually coming up with everything. That we are called to trust that God can use our scraps. That as we gather we are called to look at one another with compassion and grace, and maybe more importantly at ourselves. May this community be a place where we support one another. May God’s grace sustain each of us in the days and weeks ahead.
Aug. 26, 2020