To Go Into the Desert

What does it mean to find yourself in the desert? What does it mean to have been there so long you do not recall if you were cast into it, led into it or walked out into it voluntarily…and maybe you don’t care anymore.

Maybe you were born in the desert and raised on the glorious mythology of the golden oasis only to learn that the oasis was crowded and made poisonous with the filth of too many seeking after too much…and so you left.

Maybe the desert is where you belong…maybe it is where you and others want to you to be…maybe all three.

The desert is a place where God needs to provide. There is no way through the desert without God. No survival without God. Whether you are there for six months or 40 years is entirely up to you.

I confess I prefer the desert to the oasis. I prefer the silence to the noise and isolation to the crowd.

How does one reconcile this to a theology of community? What does the desert have to do with community? Is one desert bound also ex communio?

I confess I cannot answer these questions…not to any level of satisfaction.

Sometimes I miss the oasis but really it is not the oasis I miss so much as the pedestal and so perhaps the desert is the best place for me. It is not community so much as it is the mountaintop I miss. To visit the burning bush and return with the voice of God and the tablets…the whole thing reeks of presumption and ego.

The mistake of the Accuser, that Satan, in leading Christ to the desert was in thinking that in the middle of the waste the need would be so great that Jesus would crumble and bow down. The mistake was the failure to recognize that it is in the dry places that God provides water and in the lonely places that God provides community and in the hot places that God causes the shade tree to rise up and offer comfort.

The mistake is to believe that the desert is absent of God when in fact the spirit of God hovers and moves as the breeze through the barrenness seeking opportunity to bring life.

It is from out of the desert that voices pregnant with having met God come and faces glowing with having seen God come, to bring with them a wisdom that is not their own.

I live in the desert for now. I love the desert for now. I will remain in the desert for now.

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