Have you ever been to the desert?
I was in a desert only once for a couple of days.
It is such a strange and foreign land for someone from the north east corner of the United States.
It is barren and vast.
Sometimes it seemed like there was an orchestra playing especially just before the sun came up when creation greets the day.
Other times in the heat of the day there is absolute silence a silence so deafening that you can even hear your heart beat.
The terrain of the desert is sharp and jagged because the smoothing power of water is hardly ever present.
It is difficult to find shelter in the desert.
On a clear night ,which many of them are, there are myriads and myriads of stars.
When you stand in the desert and look up our place in the universe becomes crystal clear.
The words we heard last Wednesday ring so true. “Remember Man that you are dust and unto dust you shall return. “
The dessert reminds that we are indeed like a speck of dust, our faith teaches us that we are specks of dust very much loved by God… but specks of dust we are indeed.
Quite, noisy, jagged, hard to find shelter, Vast, desolate these are just a few adjectives which bring to the reality of the desert.
Mark’s Gospel gives us the briefest account of Jesus’ time in the desert, his Lent if you will, we know a lot more from the other Gospels.
It was a time of struggle
It was a time of temptation
It was a time of consolation
Jesus struggled because desert is not a comfortable place to live and more importantly because he was trying to figure out his next step..
He was trying to figure out the best way to love us and to bring us home to God.
It was a time of temptation because Jesus had the power to do anything he wanted and the devil tried to convince him that providing for our physical comfort, our physical well being, would be much more effective than the selfless love that Jesus came to share.
It was a moment of consolation because towards the end of his struggles in the desert (tradition says he was there for 40 days) the angels were sent by God to comfort him.
Jesus went to the desert
Jesus was driven to the desert in fact because he needed to figure things out.
He needed to discern God’s will and the quiet vast desolation of the desert was the best place for him to do that.
How much is the desert a part of our life?
Why do we run so hard from the silence?
Why do people walk all around our campus with their music blaring in ears.
Why do they walk as if their iPods somehow give them the power to be invisible?
At other moments why are we so afraid to be alone?
Why do we often live as if we are the center of the universe when in reality the desert teaches us that we are but a speck of dust.
If Jesus needed the desert to put is life in perspective so do we.
And that is exactly what we as a Church should try to do in Lent.
Remove ourselves from our daily routine and practice dying to ourselves dying to our wants and our passions and our desires.
We need to practice love over and over again.
In the silence of our Lenten practices each of us is called to listen to our heart beat and try figure how God wants us to live our lives.
Are we up for it…. Will our Lent truly be different this year?
A very important question indeed.