February 22, 2013

Lenten Journey: Back to the Desert

For Reflection...

So here I sit, my head in my hands.  I have wondered how I ended up here.  Did I simply wander here on my own?  Or was I called for and sent?  I thought I belonged here, that this might be as good as it gets, but the land is harsh, and I feel far from home.

I have tried to make the best of it.  Even before I realized where I was, I started building, first a shelter, then a home, then a city.  Timber by timber, brick by brick, room by room, block by block, I made my life here.  Now I've been here so long I don't think I could find my way through the trackless desert.  I've made it  comfortable enough, I've managed to survive, but it's dry, and I am thirsty.

I have tried to dig my own well, but I can't dig far enough.  The rain comes down and fills the hole, but it stagnates and finally runs dry.  Day by day, like the Israelites at Sinai or the woman at the well, I cry out for living water.

I wring my hands and wonder why.  My therapist might take me back to my childhood for answers.  I can talk to my friends.  I can work on my self-esteem with Oprah or on my body with a personal trainer.  I can go to my doctor and get a pill.  But when I wake up in the morning, I will still be in my room in my home in the city I've made for myself in the desert.

And then, I came to realize that I am not alone.  There is someone who has traveled to this desert.  He is praying through the hunger and the thirst with me.  He has refused, for my sake, to be whisked away from this barren place, but he has not come to settle down.

I see that he has brought his tools.  If I let him, he will help me take it all down, all the structures that I've built up, the ones that tie me here, to this lifeless spot.  When he leaves, he will take me with him, if I let him.

While we work, he takes a beam of wood, a shepherd's staff, and strikes a rock,.  And the water comes  flowing out.  And all I have to do is drink.

For Entering In...

Enter your quiet space.  Take a deep breath or two and spend a few moments becoming present to yourself.  Notice how it feels to be in your body to be in this place at this time.

Invite God to be present with you.

Reflect on these questions:
  • What are the deserts in your life?  How have you settled for a life that leaves you feeling thirsty?  And what is it you thirst for?  What does your soul long for?
  • Where in your life have you tried to make the best of things?  How?  When you recall those experiences, how do you feel?
  • Where you feel stuck or dissatisfied, how have you tried to make changes in your life?  What have been the results?
  • What about your life would you most like to see changed?  Are there situations you've become resigned to?  Things that you believe can never change?
  • Luke 1:37 says that "nothing is impossible with God."  Do you believe that can be true?  If it were, what seemingly impossible problem in your life would you wish for God to address?  What can you do now, today, to ask God to act?  How can you be ready to "do whatever he tells you" (John 2:5)?
When you have answered these questions in your thoughts or in writing, pause and again become present to yourself and to God.  Can you believe that God, by the Holy Spirit, is with you right now?  Whether you feel that or not, can you take a moment, in faith, to thank God for showing up?

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