Today, we begin our journey following Jesus into the desert.
Can you imagine?
He was just baptized in the Jordan, when, suddenly, the Holy Spirit led Him into the desert.
He looks back and beckons.
Not with His hands. Just a look.
We set out, uncertain, but not entirely.
We know Who we're following, after all. We trust Him.
We thank God for Septuagesimatide. It's nice to prepare for an outing like this.
But there is no other outing like this. How can we prepare?
By shutting our minds to the distractions.
By pulling away from the world.
By centering ourselves in Him.
The walk through the desert is arduous. The sun is hot. We knew this walk wouldn't be easy.
But God has a way of making His yoke manageable.
Thank Him for the breeze that cools the brow.
The farther we move, the quieter it becomes.
There are no birds here to sing.
It's so quiet, you can almost hear the sun sizzling in the sky. The sand baking.
The sound of sandals dig, dig, dig into the sand.
The walk itself becomes meditative. The sound of our feet has a rhythm that quiets the mind.
We are going deep into the heart of God's creation to find Him there; Him and nothing more.
What more could we ever need?
What more could we ever want?
Our Lord is there, waiting for us.
We leave behind the notifications, tings, rings, beeps and boops.
Leave behind the music that bores itself into our consciousness and haunts our subconscious;
the videos and tv shows that usurp valuable chunks of our memories with less-than-holy images and ideas.
Here in the desert, we don't need to, nay, we can't even concern ourselves with what we're going to eat.
There's no food here to obsess over or gorge on mindlessly.
Here, we must rely on Our Heavenly Father to feed us with the sweet bread of everlasting life.
Gone are the comfy and soft blankets and pillows that cushion our comfortable lives.
Gone are the heaters and fans and air conditioners that keep us all at a comfortable level of temperature.
Why are we so afraid of being uncomfortable?
This walk isn't that bad.
We are at the mercy of God now. In the desert. His mercy is everlasting.
A dark night of the senses.
Forty of them.
We shut them down to hear Him better.
To follow Him better.
Leave behind the baggage of the senses, of the memory, and the wounds and scars.
Follow Him into the desert.
But without all that baggage we carry around each day...
What do we do with our time?
What do we do with our memories?
Our monkey thoughts?
Focus them on God.
Focus on His will. On His word.
What a simple time.
Can you see it?
Can you imagine?
Our Lady has joined us in the desert, as well, but her retreat is spiritual. She is with Jesus in her mind, in her heart.
She is always close to Him.
Our Lady of Silence.
She speaks only when necessary, so that she can better hear the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
She holds all things in her heart.
All things worth keeping, that is. Her heart has no room for anything that is not of God.
Why do ours?
Why do we make room for anything else?
She knows the journey that we're on and she prays for us.
She knows, in the desert, we will be closer to Him than ever before.
Let us ask for her help as we make our way and follow the only Leader we should ever know.
Let us ask the Father...
I seek nothing more than to please You and grow closer to You.
Purify my heart and my intentions this Lent, Heavenly Father.
Bring me closer to You, to Your Son.
Prepare a place in my heart and home for silence and solitude,
so I can hear Your voice and know Your will for me.
Help me fast from the things that threaten the health of my soul and body,
which keep me attached to this world,
and which create noise to prevent me from hearing and knowing You.
Enlarge my heart so I can be generous, like Zacchaeus.
Open my eyes, so I can see, like Bartimaeus.
Open my ears, like you did for the deaf man.
Heal me, like You healed the paralytic.
Dispel the demons that surround me, as you did for the Gerasene.
Bring me back from death, as You did to Lazarus.
I seek nothing but Your will, Lord.
I know that I can do all things in You.
Image: Christ in the Wilderness, by Ivan Kramskoy (c. 1872, public domain), with icon of Our Lady of Silence (artist unknown)