Journeys into the wilderness have been a part of spiritual preparation across cultures and throughout history. Just thinking about the wilderness conjures images of the shaman: alone in the woods fasting, meditating, perhaps singing or praying. This time set aside for spiritual purification or divine revelation while existing in shamanic traditions is more likely familiar to us because of novels, movies, and television. I can easily recall the episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer where Buffy is sent to the desert to commune with her spirit guide, meets the first slayer, and learns the origins of her power.
In the Bible, we are told Jesus went to John to be baptized, after which the heavens opened up to him and he then spent 40 days and nights alone in the wilderness fasting and praying. Matthew 12 tells us the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness. This story is rich – he approaches John for baptism, but John wishes to turn him away insisting instead that Jesus should be the one to baptize him. In this moment, Jesus is empower John in his ministry. He is demonstrating the power of shared ministry. What can we learn from this as we work together in religious community?
Jesus goes to the wilderness to fast and pray. He is compelled by the Spirit to spend 40 days wandering. Where are the wild places that Spirit has sent you? What did you find there?
In part, the fasting during Lent likens ourselves to Jesus wandering in the wilderness; 40 days of fasting and prayer. As we make room for the holy, consider the wild places in your life. Are you wandering in the wild of a forest or the barren desert? What temptations do you encounter during this intentional journey toward the Holy?
As we continue to walk with one another on this journey, I hope you will consider these questions for your own time in the wilderness. What is the call your spirit has? Where are you compelled to go? What challenges await you there? What gifts?
12 At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness,
13 and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.
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