Friday, February 23, 2007

In the wilderness

"The wilderness" is an expression we toss around a lot during Lent. We think we must go there (like Jesus did). For some, that means giving up the comforts of home, because in the wilderness you only have what you took with you, and because it was heavy to carry, you didn't take all that much. But I've known people to go into the wilderness well-prepared, like girl scouts, with a camper-trailer-full of amenities they didn't wish to leave behind... food, books, extra clothing in case it got cold at night. I've done it myself, and my wilderness experience, while adequate, did not transform me all that much.

Scripture tells us Jesus was driven into the wilderness. He probably was not prepared, and he may not have wanted to go. That is the wilderness we find ourselves in most unexpectedly sometimes. If he went, high on God's beautiful and powerful words about him, then those words probably did not sustain him for long. Forty days is a long time to be without food or water... in fact, it's physically impossible for humans to survive that long with nothing to eat or drink. So given the metaphor of forty meaning: a long damn time, what we know is that he was certainly ready for it to be over.

That is where I find myself when I am there... ready for it to be over. I am lost. The usual landmarks of my life, my faith... no longer point in any direction that have meaning. I am tired of being hungry, tired of being tired. I want it to be over. That transformation even occurs at all in these times, seems a miracle to me. And yet something happens. Always.

Living inside a wilderness experience when your friends and loved ones are still present is the most difficult I think. Because they want it to be over as well. It is not easy to sit by while someone you care for is going through crisis. They cannot bring you water even though they sense that you are parched. You must find the water for yourself.

1 comment:

Luke said...

Soemtimes we need to choose the wilderness, in preparation for the verdant pasture.