In the Christian tradition, 40 days before Easter, we begin our Lenten journey. Quite often this is referred to as
a time in the wilderness
We talk about this as being an opportunity for reflection, a time to reassess, get in touch with spiritual selves and refocus for the days ahead. We often think about the wilderness journey as an intentional stepping away from the daily routines so that we can really listen and hear the heartbeat of the universe once again. For some it is seen as a tranquil place away from chaos and uncertainty. That sounds great but is this what the wilderness journey is really like? With that question in my mind I began to do some reading.
What Lent Should Be About
What I had confirmed for me was that the wilderness is not always a pretty place. Life is harsh and fraught with many dangers. When writing about the desert mothers and fathers, who literally moved into the desert to live, Jan Richardson says
“The qualities that made the desert perilous, however, provided just what the desert Christians sought. In the wilderness, they found the external landscape that their inner terrain needed. A desert exposes everything; it provides little room to hide from others, from God or from oneself.”
She goes on to write
“Those who persisted learned that the desert does not offer a place of escape from who we are. Rather, it provides a landscape where what besets us becomes more apparent, more visible. The desert doesn’t allow for leaving our internal landscape behind; instead it confronts us with whatever distortions and brokenness we have allowed to creep in”.
As I read these words I thought, YES! This is exactly what Lent should be about.
It should be about returning to right relationship with the Divine, with others and with ourselves. To do this requires that all those things we would rather forget or ignore or run away from be exposed. As the negativity in our life is illuminated and confronted, its power dwindles. This is not easy for any of us for it requires facing our demons, addressing our complacency and changing the lens through which we view the world. And, let’s be honest, none of us truly enjoys such a process!
Dare To Take The Journey
On the flip side, there are the blessings that abound from such a journey.
Imagine for a moment what it fells like
to have faced ones fears and conquered them.
to have release ones anxieties into the universe
to have owned your own part in broken relationships and begun the healing
to have your heart rate slow and your being know peace
to experience the presence of something greater than yourself
to experience a renewed sense of hope
to experience a new vision for the road ahead
to experience peace and joy and love.
These are the things that I believe reveal themselves when we venture into the wilderness and truly allow that space to speak to us and shape us. My prayer for you is that you dare to take the journey. As you go I share with you this blessing (Jan Richardson, “In The Sanctuary of Women”)
May you know the presence
of those who have passed
through the desert before you.
May they point the way
and sustain you
with their stories.
In the wilderness,
may there be wellsprings.
May there be wings.
© 2019 Rev. Valerie Peyton Kingsbury. All rights reserved.