The holiday is over and it’s time to return to work.
A few days ago I was walking Norfolk coastal paths, enjoying wide-open vistas of marsh and sea. Now the horizon has shrunk to the wall at the end of my desk, dominated by the inevitable computer screen. Instead of dodging excited children, happily hunting crabs from the harbour quay, I will soon see the road outside full of children heading back to school. How quickly our horizons shift, how easily they seem to shrink. ‘Getting away from it all’, never lasts long. The holiday ends, work beckons, the familiar returns. Yet, as the holiday recedes in the rear-view mirror; as the familiar takes over once again; are we really unchanged?
Jesus and his disciples had a busy time of it. So much coming and going they didn’t even have time to eat properly (Mark 6:31). So, from time-to-time, Jesus would take them away for a rest. On one occasion they left Jewish territory altogether. No doubt they hoped that no one would recognise them, but even here Jesus was asked for help by a local woman, a gentile of Syrophoenician origin. (Mark 7:24-30). The disciples clearly found her a nuisance, disturbing their quiet break. When they got back to Galilee, was she soon dismissed from their minds? For now, Jesus is focussed on the Jewish people (eg: Matthew 15:24) but, as we know, this is just the beginning. Did this brief encounter help prime the disciples for the changes that lay ahead? We all have to start somewhere.
A holiday can expand horizons; not just physically. Meeting new people; seeing different places and putting events, historical and contemporary, into context; even seeing the familiar in a new light (see last week’s reflection on Evening Prayer); all this can seep into the soul. I have brought back something of those wider holiday horizons. Now, as I settle back into the familiar Rectory routine, will I let my horizon really shrink again or will those holiday horizons expand my vision in the weeks and months ahead? The choice is mine – and yours.
Rev Philip Payne
The Notice Sheet for 5th September can be found here
5 September 2021