In the Wilderness
A few years ago, I visited Israel. One day we drove from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea resort. Most of the drive was through the wilderness…an empty barren land between the city and the numerous resorts that have been built up along the shores of the sea so that people can take advantage of the saltwater spas. The wilderness is an intriguing place as nothing really grows and other than a few Bedouin shepherds very few live there. We just wanted to get from one place to another as quickly as possible.
Yet in the Bible, the wilderness holds a very special place. It is the space between two things such as the Israelites in slavery in Egypt and freedom in the Promised Land. Or in captivity in Babylon and the return to religious freedom in Jerusalem. The wilderness was the home of John the Baptist, forerunner of Jesus, the bridge between the old way of doing things and the new. The wilderness was where Jesus went to be tempted. The place where Jesus recognizes that he is called to something special by God. And in the Jordan in the wilderness Jesus is baptized commencing the start of his ministry. The Biblical wilderness is not empty and barren, but a place of journey and discovery.
Right about now, it seems like we are enduring this COVID wilderness. It is the time between life as we knew it and that time when we will be able to once again freely associate. For many of us it has seemed like an eternity. We want to get through it as quickly as possible. However rather than seeing it as a time to be endured or to be passed through quickly, what if we began to see it in the Biblical way: as a time of growth and learning and deepening spirituality?
What are some of the things that you have learned during this time? What have you learned about yourself? What new gifts have you discovered? What new insights have been gained? What surprising treasures have you found?
The book of Deuteronomy in the Old Testament reminds us, “For the Lord your God has blessed you in all that you have done; God has known your wanderings through this great wilderness.” The prophet Isaiah says that it in the wildness we will find all kinds of blooming flowers and it is there that we will also find God.
May we all too, find flowers and God in new ways on this COVID journey.