Since it is Lent and Lent has a typical desert them I thought I would write on the desert experience a little bit. Jesus is taken to the desert by the Spirit and there he is tempted and succeeds. For me moving into the desert might be a calling from the Spirit, we know the Spirit is involved but I also have the element of my disease which can quickly send me into the desert.
For me the desert is a time of struggle. I struggle on many levels: physical, emotional, spiritual. Some of these struggles are temptations to doubt the goodness of God and to wrestle with the meaning of pain and suffering. Some of the desert is feeling not as close to God yet knowing at the same time he is closer to me than I am to myself. I find in these moments the practice of remembrance is powerful.
Remembrance is a significant part of the biblical story and a command of Jesus at the eucharist, he says "do this in remembrance of me". So what do I remember? I remember my times of closeness to the Lord first and foremost. I also remember my earlier desert seasons. This helps me to know that Christ is still present working in my life even if I don't always see it. This practices takes the sting out of the desert and makes it more like a normal cycle in life, nothing to be feared and nothing that will last forever. Knowing that life comes in seasons is deeply helpful.
I also remember the things I am grateful for and I bring those to mind, what a powerful practice gratefulness is! I remember the character of God. God is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. What a good thing to know and remember! Also God is gracious and his forgiveness is like the very air we breathe!! Knowing that God is gracious to me allows me to be gracious and tender with myself while in the desert and not to get too high on myself when I am not in that place.
All of this transforms the desert from an awful place to just a place. The desert becomes a place of grace and transformation, one that deepens and strengthens me and one that comes and goes just as the seasons come and go.
Thanks be to God for Christ and his love.