Day 8 – Desert

Mark 1: 8-12— Desert demons

I wonder how it is that upon being baptized, Christ is ‘at once’ sent back into
the desert.

Is that the way it is? When the heavens open for that glimpse and we at last
fully receive the blessing, the benediction ‘it is good’, when we glance the
truth of who we are meant to be and how vitally precious we are to Love, when
we experience the overwhelming fullness of the Union, are we then thrust
immediately back into the desert?

O, how many God-moments of pure Being in Love have I known, moments of bliss,
only to be thrust into the harsh reality of life upon my ‘return’ where I have
heard the question howled from my heart, ‘Why?’. Why this pain experienced
here, why this suffering, why this despair? Each time my heart has struggled
mightily to hold the tension between the two, which feel so very far away from
one another that it feels as if my heart will break in two…..and I suppose that
each time my heart does stretch and grow.

How to hold holocausts and newborn infants in the same breath of God? How to
hold rape and lovemaking in the depths of Compassion? How to hold the violence
and the beauty? Is this what is meant by the Christ experience of being in the
desert with wild animals while the angels attend? Pure flesh and pure spirit in
the same place. Love in the midst of a cruel land.  Oh, this is a terribly
sacred place, this thing called life, where the terror of the cross is a sacred garden in
which Love is grown, where the sacred and the profane are One.

Sometimes the deserts I am thrust back into after touching the sacred are not
nearly so harsh, but merely barren. The day to day feels empty and I yearn to
return. I hunger for another taste of remembrance, for the sky to open again
and rain manna. And I feel so very ALONE.

Yes, it feels like this too. So certain am I that Love is all in all, that God
is all there is, in one moment and then I step out from under that grace, which has descended from the heavens like a dove, and struggle to see the face of God anywhere in this desert. And though I know in my soul that Love is here, it seems as if no one has seen it here on the surface of life. I wonder….. when the other looks at me do they also witness me as something so devoid.

And so, reading ahead, I wonder if these moments call for this different kind of
baptism of which Love speaks — the baptism of Spirit which Christ finally
brings forth. A baptism that teaches my spirit to remain open, to Know Love in
the midst of a barren… or harsh… land and to carry my ‘Being in Love’ deep
within me from place to place. Repentance is not a done deal. I must learn to
hear in two languages at once– the song of the angel in the howl of the creature. To
carry consciously within me the Beauty of the Sacred– from cradle to cross.

The energy of the Holy Spirit that Christ brings is an inclusive energy, a
welcoming energy that is able to stretch to embrace Love, not merely in its
moments of profound Beauty but in moments of Terrible Ugliness. Spirit can hold
it all in Love when eyes can’t see.

O Love, may I learn to listen for the angel’s song permeating time and space.
May I feel Your encompassing presence. In Your blanket of sound, Your melody of
grace. May the desert teach me to embrace Love in the wildness and the
wilderness of the here and now.

I notice also that Christ is called to return to the same broken, desert places where we first heard the call, where we confessed ourselves and were baptized, to reclaim them as God’s. We too are invited to carry the presence of Love with us to those same unredeemable places so that they may be transformed into blessing. Love goes back to our wounded places and make them gifts, raises the deaths, and clothes the perishable in the imperishable Divine Light.

And so my tears are clothed in poetry, my fears in empathy, my terrors in compassion. The leper is seen as Beauty and healed in the embrace of Love. Nothing is rejected, all is beheld by Love; Love makes me whole.

I hear the angel sing, ‘Behold. Be wholed’


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