Once again, my father is making an appearance today to share with us a few thoughts from his Lenten journey. In doing so, he asks us to consider our own pilgrimages to the cross this year. I pray you are blessed by his words, even more so challenged by them: to walk deeply with Jesus, think thoughtfully about Jesus, and apply willingly the truth He reveals about himself on the road to Calvary. There are gifts to be found along the way and as we go. Here are a few…
In the desert we are free of distractions. We are reduced to the bare necessities of existence; survival is our only quest. And we soon discover that all the distractions that once claimed our attention have become, in fact, our bondage. This awakening is the first gift of the desert. And like the children of Israel in the wilderness, we must make a choice: either to return to Egypt with its slavery and comfortable idols, or strike out boldly into the unknown for the sake of a promise given, yet unrealized.
And if that is done, it won’t be long until we discover the second gift of the desert—we leave behind our false selves and get a glimpse of our true self-image; that is, we see ourselves as God sees us—the beginning of the person God always intended us to be—the persons we always hoped to be!
The third gift of the desert is community. In community we will find courage to admit our vulnerability and weakness, and we will discover a wisdom and strength for one another we never knew by ourselves. Community will teach us that we move ahead together or not at all. In community we will be surprised to learn that the things we thought would bring frustration and anxiety are, in fact, our very salvation.
The best part of the desert, the uncharted part of Lent, is all about receiving gifts: gifts of freedom, of knowing who we are and that we are not alone. Blessed be God who every year gives us 40 days to rediscover these healing and transforming gifts for ourselves and one another. The desert can end up being the most giving place we have ever been. We can make a choice: to return to the distractions of our bondage, or to be free!
Open our eyes and our hearts, Lord, to see and to receive the many gifts you have for us as we travel this desert road together. Amen.