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February 21, 2010
Our Lenten Journey BeginsThis week our annual Lenten journey begins anew. In some respects we almost hate to see Lent coming. We often associate it with sacrifice and less than cheery liturgies. On the other hand, somewhere down deep, we desperately feel the need to live this Lenten season. Although it isn’t fun, it is a time set aside for our own good. And so, we will walk this journey together.
We begin our journey in the desert. Jesus went into the desert before he began his public ministry. St. Paul also spent some serious time away in the desert before he made his decision to follow Jesus. Neither Paul nor Jesus escaped to the Desert because it was an attractive place to spend their leisure time. They went because they felt the need to go
Why would anyone spend a long period of time in a desert on their own accord? Since we live in a country where there are very few “serious” deserts, we find ourselves hard pressed to understand the concept of the desert. However, in the Middle East the desert was and is easily accessible. People traveled through it on a regular basis. Caravans crossed immense deserts to carry on commerce. Both the hardships and the life giving gifts of the deserts were well understood and appreciated. For our own sake, let’s take a few moments to experience this desert.
We go into the desert alone. We do not take our family or friends. We leave all behind. This journey is for the good of our soul and we must journey alone. We do not take a vehicle so that we can run away when times get tough. We do not bring our cell phones or computer so we can be entertained in case of boredom. We go alone, on foot and empty handed.
As we walk into the desert we see creatures we are not familiar with. The sun has risen and we feel the extreme heat. The sun blinds us. We feel the thirst and are very happy we remembered to bring water to drink. It is too hot to walk so we try to find a rock or even a cactus that will throw some shade. We sit trying to conserve our energy. In the evening we hear noises that can easily frighten us. There was a sudden drop in temperature when the sun went down. We feel very much alone, we are cold and frightened. We have nowhere to turn, nowhere to run, no one to help us. We are totally alone.
There is nothing we can do to help ourselves, save run away. We become totally dependent on God. Our condition “forces” us to rely solely on God’s goodness, mercy and love. Because we are alone with God we enter into a deep and intimate relationship that enables us to see life in a completely different way, i.e., we begin to see things through the eyes of God.
This Lenten season, let us take up the challenge of the Desert. We do not have to go away to a geographical desert but we must make an effort to be alone with God. Can we take up the challenge?
Lorette P. Nault