I’ve long been a fan of the author, Belden Lane, and he is the author of an important book in my life entitled, “The Solace of Fierce Landscapes,” which by the way is the best title of a book ever. In that book, Lane talks about the connection between desert or wilderness spirituality and what he himself experiences during his many walks and hikes in the wilderness. About this, Lane quotes late 19th century naturalist, John Muir, who said this, he said, “I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out I found was really going in.”
This is the way I think about Lent, that the season of Lent is an invitation to walk in the wilderness, to go out till the sundown of Holy Week, and to discover that in going out, we have actually gone in, gone within ourselves and within our communities to discover who we really are in God and to bring what we’ve discovered into the light of Easter. As the children of Israel discovered, a trek in the wilderness, with its silence and its break from well known and well worn activities, teaches us who we actually are, and has the potential to remake us in our relationship with God and with one another. I would suggest that this be our focus on during Lent.
How do we do this? Here’s what I plan to do for myself, and of course, you might take inspiration from it. During my brisk early morning walks with my husband, Eric, that I do each day, I’m going to observe silence, and he’ll be glad of that, so I can go within myself and listen more attentively to my inner life, to God’s word that may come to me in my silence. After those early morning walks each day, I’m going to pray the intercessions that come to me, that come to me from what I hear from the silence I’ve just experienced for that 40 or 45 minutes. And finally, I’m going to set aside time each day in this office to go within, to sit in silence just for a little while, and to notice how this affects what I do here, the meetings I have, the work I do by myself and with others, and the pace, importantly, the pace I keep during the day.
What might you do to go within yourself as an individual and to listen to God during Lent? What might your community, your church community do to go within itself to listen to God during this season? I wish each of you a taste of wilderness during this season for God is in the silence of our wilderness, God is in the turning away for a moment from all the noise and activity of our lives, and yes, God is inviting us into the wilderness as we prepare for the coming of Easter.
You can find Lenten book resources from our Diocesan Resource Center at the link below.