In the Wilderness...
Hope and despair. Fear and courage. Desolation and beauty. Presence and absence.Test and temptation. Peace and turmoil. The wilderness is a mix of all this and more. Writers have described it as a “thin place,” a place of vulnerability. The Bible presents the wilderness as a place into which God speaks. In fact, the wilderness or the desert is mentioned over 300 times.
We recall God’s journey with the Israelites as they journeyed for 40 years in the desert, God’s “still small voice” to Elijah in a cave on a mountain, and God’s presence with Jesus in his 40 days of trial and temptation in the desert. Indeed, God is with us in all times and places, and Jesus reminds us, “I am with you even to the end of the age.”
The thing about the wilderness is its wildness! We don’t have control. Wildness is its very essence! That is what makes our contemporary situation so uncomfortable. We don’t have control. We have lost the control we thought we had, and it has upset our routines and turned our lives upside down. Where do we find our peace now?
In the poem “The Peace of Wild Things” Wendell Berry writes:
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Berry names our fears, which are very real. He also names surrender, surrender to grace of creation and Creator, a grace we name God. God is with us, and we are together with one another in faith and hope.
In this time of trial we are reminded of grace, not from our ability to fix things, or control situations, but from our union and communion with God and one another. Our connections to grace are critical:
- through prayer: alone and together,
- with creation: a walk outside, a meditation through the window,
- in communication by phone and letter
- through worship via video
- by reading Scripture
In her book Braving the Wilderness, Brene Brown writes, “Our belief in inextricable connection is one of the most renewable sources of courage in the wilderness.” We live and journey together in hope, a hope that sits in darkness and shines in the light. We are not alone, and we affirm that every time we turn to God in prayer and share the Peace of Christ with each
other. Thanks be to God.
May the Peace of Christ be with you,