As part of my Lenten journey this year, I am attending a weekly Lectio Divina group at the Basilica of Saint Mary — then painting and writing impressions from my meditations.  The Gospel for Week 1 is Mark 1:12 – 15.

“And immediately the spirit drives Him into the wilderness —”

The words that follow are not unfamiliar.  Satan.  Dryness.  Wild beasts.

Forty days.

And forty nights.

Who would sign up for this?

Well, not me —

Not without —

Being driven by the spirit.

The loving spirit that is stronger than any excuse, contingency or exception living in me.  The holy spirit that somehow makes the desert and its dark unseen crevices and creatures —

Irresistable.

And even —

Embraceable.

Not in an attractive or comfortable or desirous manner, but —

As a necessary act of balance.  As a vital agreement I enter into believing it serves me to lose sight of myself.  That consenting to some amount of shivering without knowing where or when or how the warm blanket will appear and minister to me is a passage I cannot refuse.

And yet, I continue to ask.

“How long?  How cold?  How far?  How empty?

“Can I get a preview?  What is the payoff?  Will I like it there?

“What’s the ROI?”

And —

God answers me —

“Why do you cling so to limits?”

Aha!

“This time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand —”

A kingdom without limits, beyond my wildest imagination.

How do you go into the wilderness?  With reservation and hesitation, or willingness and surrender?  What are the contingencies and excuses you wish to let go and lose sight of?  How will you empty yourself to be filled with the promise of God’s kingdom?

About the Author Julie Ann Stevens

My art flows from the patterns & paths of my lived experience which ⏤ like yours ⏤ are at once deeply personal and entirely universal.

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