Sunday, October 10, 2010


Sunday Reflection: Escape

I know that when things seem at their worst, people fantasize about escape. I will often ask people what they would do if they were not in this place/job/life, and I am often surprised by the specificity of the answers-- people have thought this through. When I was interviewing at law firms, this seemed to be a very productive question, as firms full of people with fully-formed escape fantasies seemed to be places I did not want to be.

Escape fantasies seem wrong to me in many ways. They represent withdrawal from a challenge, in a sense, even quitting.

But what to make of Jesus's retreats? We know that he would withdraw alone from everyone at times, to pray and reflect. Were these escapes?

Perhaps, in a way. He removed himself from a place and role for a time to regenerate himself, to become stronger. Importantly, though, he then returned to the challenge.

This example seems a good one for those who despair and fantasize about a very different life. It could be that the temporary retreat is worthwhile-- an in-between that exists as an alternative to both continued immersion in troubles and flight.

Well put!

We all need time away, now and again, for refreshment and reflection. It gives us time to gain perspective and to allow God's perspective through the Holy Spirit work upon us.

Escapism as you say, though, is rampant within our culture. It operates on all levels and in all strata and corners of society, including and unfortunately I am afraid, in all types of religions and faith pilgrimages.

The most pernicious and harmful of these escape fantasies are found in the lines of thinking present in the Left Behind series which is really another way of speaking of heaven and hell (ala Dante but without the good poetry or the cool lithographs).

Jesus got away to be present with God the Holy Spirit: to be refreshed and revivified by the Spirit. In Sabbath observing groups, this is what keeping Sabbath aims to accomplish. His intention and practice, however, was not to go back but to go to Jerusalem with joy and conviction. Religion, and particularly our Christian faith and teachers, would do well to help us see that.

Thanks for the reflection.
Jesus did it, but
can we? Is it possible for
one not born of God?
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