The last two weeks brought some needed time away from things like my computer, deadlines, etc. I was able to get away and reconnect with family and things that give me life. It was good.
It was also difficult. We dealt with my daughter breaking her collarbone on Friday, just before leaving Sunday on vacation. The plans changed. No swimming, or, well, basically anything that required two good weight-bearing hands.
I realize that to gripe about not being able to do everything as we had planned is the epic complaint of all humanity, and that to complain at all after having spent time away is a first-order First World problem. But there it is.
The idea of time away is important because there are benefits to separation.
We see connectedness as the patron saint of fully-functioning human beings these days: we are connected to devices, to platforms, to work, to effort, and to meaning-making that requires us to live up to the standards set by those outside of our own soul. While those standards can be fair - being the kind of spouse that our partner requires, for example - many times they ask more of us than we have to give.
So, we reach a point in time where we are scraping the bottom:
We are out of energy so we hoard it.
We are out of patience so we become brittle and petty.
We are out of perspective so we get lost in details and circumstances and make the kind of lousy decisions that our lack of perspective wills into being.
The need is growing for time apart.
Recently reading J.D. Vance’s powerful memoir Hillbilly Elegy shows how a child living in the constant presence of substance abuse, instability, and crisis grows up to believe those things are normal. Until the moment where that child sees something different - a stable family, a crisis handled peacefully, a clean and sober role model - they cannot understand the world apart from the lenses of chaos.
In other words, they need some time apart.
We need some time apart.
The spiritual health you and I need today may be found in prayerful and informed engagement with the people, systems, and realities around us. Or, perhaps the health we need is found in a quiet space without distractions.
Even for only 10 minutes.
A blank notebook, a beautiful set of sights and sounds, or simply a space that we don’t have to manage can give us the space that gives us the life that engages the soul.
What do you need some separation from today, not in order to abandon it but to return to it better than you left?
May you find in your searching for time away, time apart, time set aside, the very kindness and graciousness of God who met Jesus in desolate places (Luke 5:16) so that Jesus could be separated from the opinions, projections, and distractions of others to find Himself just as He should be - just as He was.
May you find the same in your time away.