1Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness,
2where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished.
The “wilderness” is that place I most want to avoid. It is a barren, unfriendly, forbidding place.
The “wilderness” feels threatening, disorienting, and dangerous. It is a place of uncertainty and confusion.
It is lonely in the “wilderness”.
It is difficult to get my bearings. There are no road signs, no tourist information kiosks, or road maps that make clear the way through the “wilderness”. There is no WiFi in the wilderness; GPS does not work. It is easy to feel I have lost my way.
The “wilderness” is a place of scarcity. There may be provisions for the journey in this place. But sustenance is hard to find. It is not immediately obvious how I am going to get the resources to carry on in this “wilderness” place. I am forced to confront the reality of my deep hunger. Like Jesus, in the wilderness I sometimes feel “famished”.
This wilderness is a familiar place. I have been here before. I know the terrain; this is not the first time I have walked these dusty empty barren hills. It will not be the last time.
Life provides many opportunities to travel in the geography of “wilderness”. No one is exempt. I can spend my life trying to organize the circumstances of my world so that there will be no wilderness; but it cannot be avoided. Around the next corner, lurks another unavoidable “wilderness”.
Lent invites me to examine what strategies I am using to deny or escape the “wilderness” terrain. What is the cost of these wilderness-avoiding schemes? Have I the courage to face each wilderness as it arrives without seeking to avoid the inevitable pain these places bring?
How will I travel in this “wilderness” place? How will I face the fears and uncertainties of the “wilderness” I cannot avoid? What do I need to help me keep moving forward through these dry barren stretches?
What skills am I building into my life that will help me be attentive to the Spirit who seeks to lead me in every wilderness I encounter?