The Wilderness Experience (2)

Sinai2The experience of a wilderness is often used as a metaphor of spiritual emptiness. In my last post, I described my own experience of staying in the Sinai desert. It taught me not to use the metaphor glibly.

Spiritual emptiness – by which I mean loss of direction and one’s hold on God or your own convictions – may be no more than lack of discipline and persistence. Time spent in a wilderness may be deeply challenging yet at the same time enriching.

Here is another piece I wrote after coming out of the Sinai. It starts with a question Jesus asked of people who went out into wild places around the Jordan valley to meet the prophet John.

Why did you go into the wilderness to look at?

I saw colour, Lord.

Ruby, pink, violet,

grey, cream, orange,

bronze, green and brown.

I saw rock, Lord.

Smooth, wind-blown,

sharp and brittle;

snow-crisp sand,

shingle without a tide.

It gives its beauty to you

but you must take it all;

the softness and the strain of heat,

the gentle breeze,

the fierce cold of moon-lit darkness,

the sound of a silence

that keeps you trembling

on the edge of a scream.

I watched a solitary figure

walk away into the vastness;

no track to follow

absorbed by the generosity of emptiness

following an invitation to wander

tantalised by the possibility

of being lost.

It gives its beauty to you

to seduce you

to overwhelm you

to enrapture

to enfold you in the freedom of

having no purpose

but to live.

I saw all this Lord, but where were you?

Image: Muzak
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