Water, water, water … There is no shortage of water in the desert but exactly the right amount , a perfect ratio of water to rock, water to sand, insuring that wide free open, generous spacing among plants and animals, homes and towns and cities, which makes the arid West so different from any other part of the nation. There is no lack of water here unless you try to establish a city where no city should be.
— Edward Abbey from Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness
Everywhere is Desert
The Desert Fathers believed that the wilderness had been created as supremely valuable in the eyes of God precisely because it had no value to men. The wasteland was the land that could never be wasted by men because it offered them nothing. There was nothing to attract them. There was nothing to exploit. The desert was the region in which the Chosen People had wandered for forty years, cared for by God alone. They could have reached the Promised Land in a few months if they had travelled directly to it. God’s plan was that they should learn to love Him in the wilderness and that they should always look back upon the time in the desert as the idyllic time of their life with Him alone. Continue reading “Desert Day 25: Desert Wisdom, What God Has Blessed …”
Be silent, O all flesh, before the Lord. — Zech 2:13
Where shall the Word be found,
where will the word resound?
There is not enough silence.
— T. S. Elliott from Collected Poems (Ash Wednesday)
To enter the unspeakable requires a quiet courage that points to what is often out of reach, though it is never far from us. Not unspeakable because it is awful, but because it lives beneath words. Not touching that silence and what lives there isolates us from the web of Spirit that connects everything. Then we lapse into what feels like a broken world of nothing. But entering that silence, the unspeakable shows itself as the thread of light that holds the web of life together. Feeling these threads, I am reanimated in a world where each small part contains everything. Continue reading “Desert Day 21: At Home In The Silence …”
What is going on in your innermost being is worthy of your whole love …
— Rainer Maria Rilke from Letters to a Young Poet
By slowly converting our loneliness into a deep solitude, we create that precious space where we can discover the voice telling us about our inner necessity—that is, our vocation. Unless our questions, problems and concerns are tested and matured in solitude, it is not realistic to expect answers that are really our own. How many people can claim their ideas, opinions and viewpoints as their own? Sometimes intellectual conversations boil down to the capacity to quote the right authority at the right time. Even the most intimate concerns, such as the concerns about the meaning and value of life and death, can become victims of the fashion of the time. Frequently, we are restlessly looking for answers, going from door to door, from book to book, or from school to school, without having really listened carefully and attentively to the questions. Continue reading “Desert Day 17: Listen Carefully And Attentively To The Questions …”
The word solitude can be misleading. It suggests being alone by yourself in an isolated place. When we think about solitaries, our mind easily evokes images of monks or hermits who live in remote places secluded from the noise of the busy world. In fact, the words solitude and solitary are derived from the Latin word solus, which means alone, and during the ages many men and women who wanted to live a spiritual life withdrew to remote places—deserts, mountains or deep forests—to live the life of a recluse. Continue reading “Desert Day 16: Solitude of Heart …”
In the early centuries of the church, as Christianity continued to find its form, women and men who sought to follow Christ began to move into the deserts of Egypt, Palestine, and Syria. Leaving behind the familiar landscapes they had known, they went into the wilderness to divest themselves of all that separated them from God. Continue reading “Desert Day 09: A Way In The Wilderness …”
And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan, and was led by the Spirit for forty days in the wilderness …
— Luke 4: 1-2
Despite its clarity and simplicity, however, the desert wears at the same time, paradoxically, a veil of mystery. Motionless and silent it evokes in us an elusive hint of something unknown, something unknowable, about to be revealed. Since the desert does not act it seems to be waiting – but waiting for what? Continue reading “Desert Day 01: Something Unknowable, About To Be Revealed …”
Return to the darkness, return
this longest night of wonder
Return to the dream, return
this holy night to ponder
Deep in the night, listen
Continue reading “Born of a Star (Advent/Winter Solstice) …”