Every so often, a television commercial goes beyond the sales pitch and touches something more than our consumer need. There was such an ad this spring for Kohl’s department stores. The scene is that of a little girl drawing with chalk on her front walk when a delivery man walks by, juggling boxes. Clearly, he’s having a bad day and just glares at her. His grumpiness gives her an idea.
She takes her chalk and draws a hopscotch grid on the sidewalk in front of her house. It’s a wonderfully colorful and inviting work. As she watches, everyone who passes by: teenagers, a woman jogging, and a senior couple all stop to play the game, cheering and waving at her when they successfully dance their way through her design.
Then the grumpy delivery man reappears. He stops and scowls at the hopscotch challenge in front of him. He looks at the young artist, and to her surprise, he smartly jumps through the grid. He then walks away with a sly smile.
This week in the Gospel Jesus offers his disciples and us both and invitation and a challenge. Jesus says, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” The little girl’s hopscotch challenge becomes such a “deserted place” envisioned by Jesus. The “deserted place” can be a physical place of quiet and solitude to re-connect with God and the things of God. A “deserted place” can also be time: a few minutes we set aside to stop, to realize God’s presence in our midst, to feel grateful for God’s grace in the love of family and friends. We all need “deserted” places, “hopscotch” moments, to escape the demands and expectations of our over-scheduled lives, to hear anew the voice of God in the quiet of our hearts, to realize anew God’s presence in our lives in the love and care of family and friends.
Christ challenges us to find a deserted place and, in the process, we will meet him.