Water in the desert
Mark1: 9-13 (NRSVA)
9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. 11 And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’
12 And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.
Many of us will have felt the experience of lockdown to be a desert experience. Life has been drained of its usual colour and richness, droughted down to a parched version of what we have known. We have walked in the dry lands of vulnerability.
Despondency, despair and, for some, depression may have opened cracks where destructive and distracting thoughts can enter and erode our confidence, peace and trust. Wind and water erode the cracks of drought in desert soil.
Yet these dry, wilderness times can be the place of encounter with God in new, deep ways. Thomas Merton writes of the people of God wandering for a long time in the wilderness when they could have reached the promised land in a few months if they had gone directly. But it was there in the desert they learnt what it was to be cared for by God alone, there they learnt to love Him.
Jesus knew what it was to be stretched to the end of endurance in the desert, there to reach deeply into the secure love of the Father and to claim His promises in the struggles of temptation and destructive thinking.
When we find ourselves in the desiccated lands of insecurity and uncertainty, may we know that Jesus walks with us here. He has travelled the desert path, has identified with our need in his baptism. God the Father delights in him and commends him. We are not alone. In these difficult times, may we know his care and learn to love him more.
Jesus, we follow your journey of baptism,
For you have been to the places of no life,
In your baptism submerged beyond breathing,
In the desert hungered beyond strength,
On the cross bleeding beyond survival,
In the tomb dead, beyond imagination.
Yet you have broken the seal,
Up through surface tension rising,
Water of life sprayed in droplet arcs,
Rainbowed in light filled promise,
Breathing the draught of the Spirit’s wing,
Bathed in your Father’s love.
From the unsealed grave
This risen life you offer.
Lent Legacy 2021 Action
Consider — What are the temptations that come with introspection?